It’s not often a month goes by without one Gaping Void’s cartoons providing cause for thought. This one came in before Christmas and i have been meaning to use it in a post for some time. Like all good cartoons it takes a bit of time to unpick but I think there are some key lessons and questions that come out of it.
I remember when I started maths at sixth form as two separate subjects we had two very different teachers. Miss Maddock was a genius, she did the whole school timetable in her head every year then just wrote it down. She had been to the US to do her doctorate in the early part of the last century which for a woman was an amazing achievement. She also looked after a farm for her bachelor brother Tom and was generally considered a nutter by all bar those who she taught. Pure and Applied were small classes, most did them as one subject. So five of us would sit in the small classroom across from the female staff room and just live the inspiration provided, that we only ever partially understood. We learnt from textbooks after the event, and increasingly before so that we could keep up.
In contrast, for applied maths we had Mrs Shannon. In all my years to O Level I never got less than 100% in any maths exam bar the one time she deducted two marks for untidy handwriting to teach me a lesson. She had a sense of humour but she had not taught applied maths before so she was reading the text book a week ahead of us. However she told us the truth and we learnt together. It was a very different experience and both models had considerable value.
So there are different ways that we teach, different levels, but in teaching there is never a need to compromise, to speak down to your class.
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