Saturday, 7 February 2009

Too hard...?

Somebody just sent me this quote from Terry Prachett's Thief of Time. Susan is a teacher talking to her Head teacher:

"What precisely was it that you wanted madam?" she said. "It's just that I have left the class doing algebra and they get restless when the've finished".
"Algebra?" said madam Frout............"But that's far too difficult for seven-year-olds!"
"Yes but I didn't tell them that, and so far they havn't found out" said Susan....................


Mike Sharpe said...

Pratchett is a great writer, often depending on self-referencing irony. Here, the class of 7-year-olds hasn't formed the judgement which the Head (and other adults)has (have) of algebra. The members of the class display the 'unconscious competence' which formal education aims for, and often stifles. It appeals to those of us who take mathematical procedures (counting, finding symmetry) as intuitive expressions of a response to consensus reality...
PS just reading your book, Marcus, nice one

Meera said...

This is SO true! I'm a secondary school maths teacher, and I find, especially with Year 7 and 8, if you throw something in the path of a class, they are optimistic about being able to handle it. They'll assume that, if I've set the task, they MUST be able to do it!

The pessimism and need for hand holding develops in Year 9. Unfortunately I've never taught a class from Year 7 thru 9 so I've not been able to develop the skills beyond the 'hump', but I'm sure it can be done!!