Tuesday, 11 August 2015

"I got bored so I

walked out," he told me.
I saw one of the local high school boys in the library yesterday. He had his maths work out in front of him and was staring at the ceiling when I prowled past.
We know one another slightly. He once took up a book recommendation from me and pronounced the choice "cool" and "know any more like that?"
"Yeah, you have like no idea. He's like killing this stuff and it's so great. Maths should be exciting. I mean like it is exciting and he makes it..." He shrugged.
"Aren't you worried  you might miss something important?" I asked. 
"Nah. It was revision stuff. I decided to do some extra down here instead. Take a look at this. It's so good."
He produced some figures and showed me a proof he had worked.
I didn't dare tell him that I barely understood the problem, let alone the way it had been solved. 
I don't doubt he was right. He topped his class last year. He is expected to do very well this year. He went to a maths competition  in the summer and came away with a medal. 
I don't doubt he is bored too. His teacher probably knows that - and equally probably has no idea what to do about it. 
I wonder what you do with students like that?
I spent most of my time in school feeling bored. I can think of just one teacher who made me feel excited. He was a history teacher who told us, "Put your books away I am going to tell you what is about to happen."
He then proceeded to tell us about what was going on in what was then Rhodesia and what the consequences would be. I wish he was still alive so that he could know he was right. It was a lesson that made history come alive.
I had other good teachers of course. I must have had good teachers. They were people who got the information across. They made me read things and remember them. They taught me that two plus two was four - but never that it might be something else. I doubt they knew that either. It was just that, unlike that history teacher, they never excited me. 
I taught myself most of what I knew in school. I did it by reading and remembering because what I chose to read interested me. My brother was much the same. If we wanted to know something we would find a book and read about it. I suspect the maths student in the library would "look it up on the internet". He has access to far more information than we had. 
I don't think he was really bored. He just wasn't interested in what the teacher had to offer. He wasn't excited by it but he was, thankfully, still interested in the subject. 
I wonder though about the rest of the class. What were they thinking?

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