Ice Skating & Learning

Today I went to free skating at the Mullins Center at UMASS today.  I hadn’t been on the ice in years…. maybe as much as two decades.  At first, I was pretty wobbly, but gradually it came back to me, and I was able to make somewhere between ten and fifteen laps of the rink.  This is somewhere between a kilometer and a mile.  My legs are jelly today.

But I want to go back tomorrow.

Let’s review.  Sometime between when I was ten and when I was twenty, I had ice skating lessons.  Maybe it was formal, maybe it wasn’t.  There weren’t more than five or six lessons, I’m guessing.  How to stop.  How to start.  How to push off.  How to skate fast.  How to turn left, and how to turn right.  How to avoid other people on the ice.  How to lean forward and not back.  How to be a little mroe nimble than an elephant on roller skates.

However many lessons I had, it was enough to get back on the ice after at least a decade and a half, and feel comfortable and proficient in an hour and a half. Kudos to my teacher(s) whoever he/she/they was/were.

I have newfound respect for our hockey players at school, who often do hard practices for 3-4 hours a day, and skate even harder during games.  Kudos to them.

How do we teach reading, writing, mathematics, and other essential skills and modes of thinking so it’s that fun, that easy, and that joyous to come back to it even after decades away?

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  1. Oh Dear. Please ignore that lady in the previous response who was obviously reading her twitter feed backwards tonight from end to day to start of day. She repeated things that you said in another blog…

    I just took a very quick look through your tweets from earlier in the day and scanned your blog. Sounds like you were proposing student presentation as a goal to demonstrate learning. I’ll read more slowly and carefully later. That will teach me to make comments before reading all my tweets and opening the links!

  2. Andrew,

    In college (many years ago) I always enjoyed learning math/digital logic/computer programming more when I worked as a peer tutor and had to explain it to other students. Then as years went by I started working more in finance related jobs and only minimally in math tutoring part time on the side. As a result I did not keep up with the level of skill that I learned in college. However, in the past few years, since I have been teaching college math classes, I have had to refresh some of my skills with functions, etc which I haven’t had reason to use for years. It was much more fun this time around for me because as I went back over it, I knew that I would have the responsibility of teaching it to students for whom the material would be new. Therefore I processed through the material in a variety of ways that I did not do the first time, nor would I have done this time if it had been only for me. I kept trying to pretend that I had not ever seen the math, and trying to think of ways to present it that would make the most sense given that scenario.

    That said, I did already have all the math sitting somewhere in a file in my head just waiting to be accessed. So the amount of work was nothing compared to the effort a student puts forth the first time through. Also, I enjoy teaching others, so knowing that I would be doing that actually made the lesson preparation fun for me, even though it took a lot of time.

    So if we have students that enjoy “teaching” others, perhaps we can allow them time to do that. You work with younger students, so it is a different atmosphere and dynamic from the age of my students, and I lack the experience with that age range that you have. Therefore it is possible that this idea might be sounding a little crazy right about now. But perhaps some of your students would be up for doing a lesson or part of a lesson? Maybe they might be game for putting something together themselves and having 1/2 hour to try to “teach” it, and then decide what to put on a short “quiz”.
    Just some thoughts…


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