30 August, 2005

Ode to good teachers

School is going well.  I am settled into the groove, I think.  I am a little ahead of all my classes, and that is where I like to be.  It is not that I am an overachiever, or anything, it is just that I have found that I don't know what questions to ask if I don't stay ahead in the text.  If I read ahead, then I am already familiar with the subject when we go over it in class, and I can ask any questions I might have.  If I don't know the questions to ask, then I get stuck on the homework, and spend more time trying to puzzle it out.  In the long run, I think it is less effort to stay ahead of the class than just do the minimum.  I will work very hard to be lazy.

I am suprised at how much the calculus has finally clicked.  It is like I got my second wind or something.  All of a sudden, everything just makes sense.  I can visualize what the formulas are doing.  That was always my problem in algebra.  I could do geometry quite easily, because spacial relations are simple to me.  I never managed to visualize what the exes and whys were doing (which may be why I have so many exes, ba dump bump) (oh, hush, they can't all be thigh slappers) in algebra, and so it was all just memorization, which sucks, to say the least.

So much of school seems to be just memorization, and that is such a waste of time. Regurgitation of data does not equate to intelligence.  It has to mean something in order to be useful.  It has to connect to other information in our brains in order for us to be able to recall it.  Memorization of random data to me is like little chunks of ice floating in the river.  They are there, but you can't use them to cross the river unless they are all attached.  And the metaphor holds true even further, because the ice forms faster when it has something to attach to.

My high school history teacher, Mr. Stephens, was the best teacher I ever had. Up until the time I had him, (ok, I never 'had' him, in the biblical sense.  Though I think he may have been gay, I just didn't need the extra credit, yo), history was all names and dates and places and there was never a sequence of events or a story to go with it.  The cause and effect of history were never clear; and what good does knowing history do you, if you can't use that knowledge to avoid the same mistakes in the future?  Mr. Stephens made history come alive for me, and all of a sudden, all these random bits of information gained substance, and ever since then, as I learned new things, I could attach them to the preformed knowledge, and I learned quicker, and I had understanding of how events affected other events.   Education should be about understanding, or else we just become a nation of trained idiots.

Ms. Schuerring did the same for me with algebra this spring; or maybe it was just from being in the artillery for so long.  One way or the other, all of a sudden, I could finally 'see' what was going on, I could relate all the variables to the physical universe that I understood, and so it all made sense.  Maybe that is why the calculus is taking hold in my brain.  Or maybe because I am just too stubborn to admit defeat.  Either way, I credit my past teachers for any current abilities.

No comments: