🎓 Is there a “right” way to teach something?
Is there a universal best method for learning something?
In terms of learning (and particularly self-training), Internet has been a game changer. Nowadays, there are just so many articles and Youtube videos about everything! You can get online courses on virtually any topic you want easily and quite often for free. However, it raises interesting questions: is all this content relevant? what makes your favorite science podcast so much better than the rest, and so much better at popularising these hard concepts? how come some of these lessons are clear as day while others twist your brain in a funny way? and what about this new trend of “teaching to teach” and “learning to learn”?
In 2017, the Guardian published a set of articles titled “The science of teaching and learning”. Throughout this series, they explored various ideas ranging from tips for teachers on their first day to student impostor syndrome. This example and plenty of others suggest that there is a growing interest in how we learn and how we teach, and how these skills must evolve as our world evolves too.
In this article, I’ll tell you of a personal story that generated new thoughts on pedagogy in my head, of a myth about education, of critical thinking and of the new growing trend of teaching the teachers to teach.
Did you frame your question properly?
A basic math exercise… or not?
A couple of years ago, I was doing some maths tutorship, working with a student on functions, and more precisely, “functions variations”: for the math-lovers, yup, derivatives. However, this class was not meant to go as far as actually naming and embodying the idea of derivatives, and it stopped at the idea of “increasing” and “decreasing” functions. Instead of real definitions and theorems, you would have a series of fuzzy activities to try and grasp… something about functions variations. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what. But, in particular, I recall an exercise that presented us with a table like this one:
x | f(x)
0 | 0
1 | -3
3 | -9
-2 | 6