New Essay: On Learning What You Don’t Know

Over the weekend, I posted an essay I wrote about multiplication, struggling students and struggling teachers. I don’t worry much about what things are called, but it’s definitely not a blog post and you might be disappointed if you read as if it’s one. It’s long, and I’m trying to say and do something that I couldn’t say without the length.

You can find it here.

I hope you like it. I also have a not-secret-any-longer hope that reading it makes you want to write something. In particular, I really want to invite your critical engagement. Like really really. Like so much do I want you to write about your own differing perspective that I will suggest particular ways to do so:

  • Have you taught students like mine? How did you help them? What did they teach you?
  • Do you think differently about how students come to learn so-called “math facts”?
  • Do you think I misunderstand the significance of May and Rachel’s stories?

(I’m trying to use “critical engagement” and “differing perspective” in place of disagreement. Not that I wouldn’t value disagreement if you have it. But I aim to include asking questions and telling related stories as properly critical responses that aren’t what we usually count as disagreement.)

One of the anxieties I have while working on bigger projects is that people will see how much effort I put in to the project (it is a lot) and therefore be less likely to critically engage with the ideas, for fear of making that person (me) feel badly. People are more likely to dig in to a tweet than a book, I worry. But (like any teacher) I love provoking thoughts, and nothing makes me happier than reading them.

So: please read, enjoy and then write something.