Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Simultaneous Truths

It turns out, I believe, that two things are true at the same time:
1) Everyone is doing their best with the understanding that they have available to them.
2) Everyone is capable of far more than they realize, most if not all of the time. 


  1. I think that 1) is a helpful fiction to carry around in the classroom, but 2) is the honest-to-God truth. But that's just me.

  2. Love this -- an assumption that can lead us and our dear students to grow and do our best. I wonder about how you could share these truths with students so that it can be some self-fulfilling prophesy.

    1. I think that if we remember this we will see evidence of it. I have had two experiences this week working with students whose behavior would suggest that they would rather be anywhere but school and have no respect for education or teachers. As soon as I sat down with them and gave them my attention, they melted like butter and all they wanted was help. They pushed themselves to answer my questions, to articulate their thinking, and were able to honestly self-assess their learning throughout our conversation. It's impossible as a classroom teacher to have these kinds of 1:1 conversations with every kid all the time, obviously, but that's a different issue than that students don't want to learn.
      @Michael Pershan, the same is true of teachers. Of coaches. Of principals. Seriously. Frustratingly, perhaps, but truly, I believe.

  3. I don't necessarily see a paradox, or a fiction. I think in terms of teaching the maths, I'm doing my best given what I know about (a) the material, (b) the current students, and (c) how to teach. I may be capable of more, but that would be as my experience in those categories builds. Frankly, in the short term, I have to believe that #1 is the truth, because if I approached each day thinking "yet another day when I'm not reaching my potential", in the long term I'd end up far, FAR more likely to become depressed and prone to giving up, as opposed to energized. Occasional victories keep me going.

    But then, I am seeing this personally, as opposed to from a student viewpoint, as it seems the prior commenters have... just bear in mind that some students may also have my, dare I say, fatalistic viewpoint. (Which may in part be due to the fact that at this moment in time, I'm doing my best with some bad back pain... thus it is also entirely possible that I have misunderstood. ^^ )