In a recent Teach Like A Pirate chat (#TLAP) Dave Burgess and I responded to a question independently and identically, causing me to respond with this.
Perspective is everything.
I have a really cool niece named Anna who’s 13. She got the chance to fly with her dad (hereafter known as The Big Fat Ninja…don’t ask) to visit Chicago this past weekend. I told her “take pictures of things you find interesting. It doesn’t have to be math interesting, just interesting.” She agreed and promptly forgot to take pictures of anything. Really cool, Anna, really cool. So I texted her a day later and said “Where are all my pictures?” This is what I got.
Anna thought the make-up mirror was interesting with its warped reflection for magnification, but devalued it a bit as not challenging. As a math person I thought “That was a nice catch, but she missed that cool pattern in the box behind the mirror. That’s what’s really interesting!!”
Then I got this one from her.
Fireworks are definitely interesting! All the math that goes into making them, planning the shows, the timing, the explosives, the science of the color and the overall space they take up in the sky! Anna said that when they were all going they looked like an exploding octopus.
Anna sent me one more video. Watch and tell me what’s interesting about it, other than the fact that Anna needs to learn to take video in landscape.
Once again, my trained perspective went to using the video to estimate the size of the big fish if I new the size of a small one or learning about propulsion in water and making a lesson about it. When I asked Anna why she thought that was interesting I expected her to say the same kind of thing, but this time she really hit the nail right on the head.
“I don’t know why it’s interesting. It just is. Big Fat Ninja liked it too :)”
In my book, Instant Relevance, I talk about making your lessons matter to your students and grabbing onto the things that matter to and are interesting to them to use in class. But I realized over the weekend that I’m stuck in my own perspective. I enjoy making interesting connections between life and my classroom. What Anna taught me this weekend is that in order to truly bring relevant learning experiences into the classroom for students, I need to attempt to see the world form their perspective. When I do, I’ll be able to make a connection to my teaching that matters to them. Too often I see the world through my own perspective (which is the easiest thing to do), then attempt to attach my perspective to what I think is meaningful for students. Let’s remember that as educators, what we have to teach is only relevant to students from their own perspective so let’s place measurably more importance on understanding their perspective.
Please consider sharing your perspective with me as well on Wednesdays at 9:30 PM EST in my weekly #MakeItReal 30 minute chat. We discuss all things relevance and begin a Book Study on Instant Relevance on September 7th. I’m excited to learn how YOU see the ideas in the book and to spend time broadening my perspective with you.