I uncranked for a little bit last night. Had to go to a professional meeting around teaching computer science, and it reminded me for all the world of the meetings of mathsoc or compose back in my college days. Back then I didn’t resent spending a few hours of my evening meeting up with colleagues, working together on problems or just chatting and philosophising. Now I kind of do. When did that change?
I don’t think it was because I had kids, I think it was when it became dictated that it had to be done, when it became homework instead of choice and fun. And because the vast majority of these things that I do seem to involve generating more work for me, and also start by being about topics that aren’t of the greatest interest to me. There’s an on-going “lesson planning” session that’s happening on Thursday evenings in the school. I’ve avoided going to the first two and feel a bit obliged to go to the next one, but I have zero interest in it. It just seems like a waste of time – and a relatively uninteresting waste of time at that.
Anyway, last night was interesting and I’m kind of really interested in computational thinking. I love thinking about some ways to define problem-solving in algorithmic ways. I love thinking about Maths modelling and getting these vague real-world problems and trapping all their fluffy boundaries into a model that may not do an exact job, but does things that are at least useful, and then can be refined further. But it seems to be a ridiculously difficult skill to teach. I used to wonder why my lecturers in college acted like I was particularly able (for all my perceived confidence, I didn’t really think I was that smart or capable), but then more years I spend teaching, the more I wish there were more people like me to teach.
That sounds completely arrogant, doesn’t it?
I don’t mean in terms of intelligence so much as I mean the desire to try things out, and maybe they’re a bit wrong, but then try again. I don’t recall having to much fear about being wrong during a “first pass”. That attitude has gotten me really far actually. Let things be imperfect, and then refine them.
Hey, I can apply that to life too and my personal self-improvement. Man, if I was to wait until I was fully cooked before going out in the world, I’d be a hermit!
And – again, despite the judgey sound of what I wrote above – what I’m really searching for is some way to unlock that ability in all my students. Lord knows we all have the ability to try and fail, don’t we? Why the hell is it so scary? The failure itself will often showcase the “next right step” in any given situation.
Okay, you have to be sensible, I mean, trial and error is probably not the right approach for something like a parachute jump or heart surgery. But even with the latter, I bet there was plenty of trial and error done on cadavers and (sadly enough) animals before they came anywhere near a human.
Am I being deliberately dense to say things like “why is it so hard”? I mean, it seems recognisably difficult. It’s even easy enough for me to identify the direct cause: fear. I just struggle with why that fear is so potent.
It can probably be enough to know that it is, but that doesn’t get me any closer to helping resolve it.
Anyway, seriously, no judgement. I’ve tons of my own irrational fears around things like heights and speaking on the phone.
Now it’s Friday and another week has rolled around to a close. Fridays are less “useful” days for getting any extra work done. I’ve 7 classes in a row and then I’m done for the week and I tend to have very little motivation to stay past the 2:15 early finish. I wants it, feel like I deserve it and want to take it. Maybe If I just got into my brain for today that I won’t finish ’til 3pm, then I’ll be able to utilise that extra bit of time and tidy up those few accessible tasks that will allow me to put a nice fat checkmark next to what’s been a really tough week for me in terms of stress and commitment.
One way or another, next week will roll past and be done with. I guess I just need to do me best to keep a part of me throughout it.