I haven’t written in the past couple of weeks because I had nothing to write. I’ve returned to the capital from my hometown, and decided to enjoy the remaining days in recess. Also because I’ve returned without the fifth grade math book I was using for my aunt’s work, so I needed to wait for it to arrive by mail.
For the last two weeks I’ve been going out, chilling at home, checking in at some friends, doing anything except mathematics. Actually, I’ve done some progress on group cohomology: the first 7 pages from Lang’s Algebra chapter 3. Now that the math book arrived, I’m back to my (possibly unhealthy) pace of work and started gathering classroom material and teacher’s resources for the chapter 2.
The book’s name is Vontade de Aprender Matemática. That translates to Desire to Learn Mathematics, for those across the continent. I became quite fond of the title, for motivation is the core of all the material I’m gathering. Sadly, I was less satisfied by the amount of motivation provided by the book itself. But the exercises are generally good – there are not too many of them, and they do provoke interest. Anyway, the book is more of a schedule to me – my aunt’s teachers are using it in class chapter by chapter, two weeks for each, in order. One week in advance, and there’s my deadline.
The thing is, all I’m trying to do is to relieve the school from it’s isolation. Almost all the material they have available to the teachers is supplied by the government. It isn’t much, just a handful of the same textbook, and a few guideline booklets. There’s plenty of good material available on the web, but technology and language are barriers for such a small town.
I’m not only including classroom material I find on-line, such as suggestions for activities with the students, but also some meta educational material, to serve as sources of various informations that could be useful to the teachers. Now, when I decide to include a translation of a small article by Edward Begle (yeah, the New Math. But Begle was sensible and reasonable. He recognized the problems in his movement and had good suggestions for what was to come), every single person reading it tells me not to.
`Teachers are not very favorable to your material yet. They could use Begle’s arguments (in the article he states that there is no evidence in the 70’s of a `superior’ method of teaching) to refute you.’ Not favorable to the material? Refute me? All I’m doing is the work of a search engine and a translator. All I want is to connect the school to what’s happening outside it. Very little of what’s in there are my words. And even in those passages, I only speak of suggestions and possibilities. I’m not trying to convince them of nothing, let the teachers choose what they think it would be useful.
My point in including Begle’s article was to illustrate the thought that attention and devotion to small bits of one’s class and procedures can be more effective than following blindly a major, innovative, shining new method of teaching. I try to make the activities neutral in the sense that they could be adapted to various methods of teaching.
If the teachers think I’m trying to lecture them on how to do their job, then I could be doing a terrible job on my writing style. Or maybe I’m not being so neutral as I hoped to. I’m still waiting for their feedback on the first chapter that I sent last month. My aunt called and said they were going to e-mail me. This was almost a week ago.
I can’t hide that I’m a bit frustrated. And a bit sad. And a bit mad. And a bit down. But I’m hoping that this is all a misunderstanding, that me and the teachers would exchange our e-mails explaining ourselves and then both life and work would go on. I have to say, this work is becoming addictive.