On Teaching

I am not a big fan of studies. It seems like there is a new one every day, and the new study often contradicts the one released the day before. There may be something to this one about teachers passing anxiety about math on to their students. Teachers, I have learned, have a dramatic impact on how students learn and whether they learn. If they have high expectations, students tend to meet those expectations. Trouble is, teachers, consciously or subconsciously, don’t have the same expectations for boys and girls. Studies also have shown — and I believe this — teachers don’t have the same expectations for their black, Asian and Hispanic students.  I don’t think anyone expected much out of me when it came to math, and I didn’t do well. I didn’t shy away from math in high school, but I struggled. When it came time to pick a major in college, I chose one that required only one math course. I am going to make a point of not passing my history with math onto Simone and Nadia. I also will keep an eye on their teachers, because I don’t want anyone to limit what they can do.
  • Blanc2

    The soft bigotry of low expectations. This is an unfortunate legacy of liberal PC politics concerning race.

    I don’t know if you read those Erin Aubrey Kaplan links I posted in an earlier post, but one of them had to do with a teacher in LA unified who had the audacity to hold high expectations of all of his students, black, white, whatever.

    As to the gender thing, as a father of a 4th grade daughter I am passionately committed to the idea that my girl will not suffer the “math and science slump” that plagues so many girls.

    • Yes, I read those links. Very interesting. I was familiar with the last post about Michelle Obama. And good for you, when it comes to raising your little girl.

  • Great post. Great reminder to me as a teacher and a mother. I teach humanities/language arts but am certain that I impart all sorts of expectations messages ALL THE TIME that I may not be fully aware of. Even though I would like to think I am being hyper vigilante.

  • First and second grade?! Yikes! It’s hard to believe that teachers feel anxious about math at that level.

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