Category Archives: Discipline

You’re on your own

I had an especially fidgety Geometry class a few weeks ago, and so I threatened them with removing all the support systems that have been handicapping them. “From your behavior, you’re telling me you don’t need me.” Specifically, beginning next semester, I would no longer teach.

The new, improved, more useful, more productive class would run like this:

  1. There will be a test for each chapter on a pre-announced date.
  2. There will be a practice test available for you well in advance.
  3. I will assign homework, for those of you who want to do it, but I won’t check it or give a grade for it.
  4. I will not lecture. I will sit in the back of the room, drinking coffee. If you want my help for anything, I will be there.

Other than the coffee part, I will follow through on this for the first unit. (This unit, Transformations, is relatively self-contained. A good place to experiment.)

There were three reactions from the students:

  1. “Great! I’m an independent learner, and I’ve been frustrated by the stupid questions my classmates ask.”
  2. “Oh no! I can’t learn unless I’m in a traditional lecture/homework/quiz/test environment.”
  3. “Sweet! I won’t have to do any homework or take any notes.”

We all know the students in Group 3 are kidding themselves. I also believe that some individuals in the other groups will be surprised by how things actually turn out. Some of them will be pleasantly surprised, and some will be disappointed.

Is this irresponsible of me? Maybe, but there should be plenty of time in the semester for their grades to recover, and I will allow re-takes of the test. I think we’ll all learn something.