TLAJ: Teach Like a Jedi – do NOT!

Being May the Fourth, my Twitter and Facebook are filled with Star Wars – which as a fan, I enjoy!  Then I saw a tweet with #tlap (Teach Like a Pirate) and thought, what about #tlaj: Teach Like a Jedi?

It didn’t take me long to see, wow, I kinda used to teach like that, and I’m glad I’m not the Jedi Master anymore.  Here are some quick thoughts on why I say “Teach Like a Jedi Do Not”:

  • Jedi mind tricks: The very word tricks says it all! “You will FOIL this binomial product” “You will invert and multiply” “These aren’t the factors you’re looking for” “You will solve this problem this way” Let me do the mathematical thinking for you, and you just do what I do. That’s really what telling/showing is like for our learners. Sense-making and conceptual understanding are a hoped-for byproduct rather than a purposeful intention.
  • “Do or do not, there is no try” Here’s how you do these questions, now do them. If you don’t get it, do it again and again until you do. Here, let me say it again, louder and slower.  No, I want my students to persevere in solving problems, to try and keep trying.
  • The Force is strong in this one. Sure, there are strong math students, but every student can be successful in mathematics. Success is not limited just to the Padawans. My hope for future generations is that we never hear, “I was never good at math” again.
  • In a similar vein, “I cannot teach him. The boy has no patience.” Ever heard those words before?

Some of these are more about being a Jedi or the beliefs of Jedi and not necessarily about how they teach, but I’m just having a bit of fun with it anyways. Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments.  There may also be worthwhile things to consider that are worth teaching like a Jedi, for example to trust your feelings/intuition.

Oh, and May the Fourth be with you!

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