November 12, 2021- Three girls came up to the white board, offering their own methods of solving a subtraction problem that, depending on one’s age, involved either borrowing or regrouping. Since both of those traditional methods get the job done, I left the door open for alternative concepts to be presented. As it happened, two of the methods proffered by the students proved faulty. A careful check, that was done by the girls themselves, showed the flaws in their concepts, The third method, which involved diagramming and regrouping, was merely a more cumbersome version of straight-ahead regrouping. Once the class was clear on the process, I continued with an illustrated explanation of borrowing.
There is nothing wrong with allowing a learner to pursue own line of learning. It enhances understanding, when one has to push one’s own boundaries and experiment with new ways of looking at matters, in a controlled setting. There is also, to my mind, nothing wrong with a bit of sass, which shows that a person knows own mind and is working, honestly, to develop a unique personality- so long as other people’s rights are considered.
All in all, this was a perfect day of getting children to think things through, act in accordance with the program set by the absent teacher and still be given room to move in their own directions, even if that movement was faster or slower than the “norm”. Each of us must develop and practice our own modus operandi.