Sunday, March 13, 2011

Inoculating Impatience

At Friday's workshop, many expressed dismay at the impatience of students who are unwilling to wrestle with mutli-step problems or pursue challenging questions for more than just a few minutes. Across our two workshops, we identified several features of the rainbow question that can possibly help avert this, including
  1. The question generates more questions. Because of this I can try to inoculate "answer-seeking" by celebrating the questions students bring up.
  2. There is no right answer. This mean I don't have to fake it or use my poker face. I really believe there are good arguments for why colors like white, brown, pink, are in the rainbow and good arguments for they are not in the rainbow. I can celebrate the good arguments on both sides and make that clear to students.
  3. Everybody has experiences with colors, so everybody has something to bring to the table. I feel like I can call on anyone to contribute without feeling like I'm calling them out or putting them on the spot. With such a problem I can celebrate everyday experience and intuition rather than science facts and terminology.
  4. The question is simply stated, but deceivingly complex. The more you talk about it, the more layers of its complexity emerge. As a teacher, this questions allows me to celebrate complexity.
The point to me is this. If my students are engaged with each others' science ideas, and I'm in a position to celebrate questioning, argumentation, everyday experience, and complexity in the science classroom, I know I'm somewhere close to where I want to be. Maybe this helps inoculate impatience in your classroom. If not, maybe one of these will:

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