Sunday, October 17, 2010

Audience is everything

As good writers know well, audience is everything.

Well, maybe not everything, but it goes a long way.

I've only just now realized a crucial (in fact, almost defining) characteristic of nearly every one of my teaching practices: in teaching my classes I try to take as my audience every single student in the classroom, from the strongest to the most-struggling. When I walk into class on a given day, I'm not teaching to only the top 10% of the class, the future superstars: I'm teaching to everyone.


I typically teach slowly, and with frequent appeal to intuition, rather than formalism.

I typically teach via realistic (or at least authentic) examples and applications

I typically offer frequent and varied opportunities for feedback from, and dialogue with, students.

I try to recognize that not everyone is going to be intrinsically motivated to study what I study simply for the sake of studying it. (Thus I avoid falling into the trap that snares many well-meaning mathematicians, who assume their students appreciate math's unadorned and unapplied beauty.)


1 comment:

drjinx said...

Right now audience is killing me in my late afternoon Vector Calculus class. I'm not getting any feedback from them. They seem catatonic. Bored. Tired. They did fairly well on the exam. I keep trying to figure out what I need to change and how to change it. I'm not having any success so far, and it frustrates me. I have to admit, I am getting demoralized regularly walking into that class. I know classes have personalities, and this one is just a tough one. What to do? What to do? Keep trying... one day at a time.