Today's a good time to let our colleague Caroline Ong, of “Math is Beautiful High Horse” renown (article about that here), to give us a bit more context on what she's doing when she takes these opportunities to micro-rant to her students about how lovely and important and useful and beautiful her discipline is.
Howdy Dave. I'm glad that my sermonizing about the beauty of mathematics (she is, after all, the queen of the sciences!) is useful outside of my classroom, and perhaps some colleagues will be encouraged to keep doing good work.
So. The horse [that I'm referencing in the video] is completely an incorporeal horse. 🙂 I am a great fan of using analogies to illustrate and teach — my “high horse” is when I want to pontificate about some sort of bigger idea not directly related to the mathematical lesson of the day. (“I'm going to go get on my ‘math is awesome high horse'!”)
Sometimes, I also refer to this as the “free lecture.” There's the lecture you pay for — the math lecture — and then there's the philosophical lecture about the importance of mathematics, or how to be a good student, or how to study / learn effectively, or any other number of topics, that you get for “free.”
[When I'm getting on my ‘math is beautiful high horse,'] I'll generally just step aside from my usual lecture spot — just a different spot from where I typically deliver instruction. Being a creature of habit, my pontificating generally happens in the same spot, too, over to the side. (At least I try to step aside from my lecture when I do this just to give a signal that the next bit will be “different”.)
I wouldn't say that I do this [math is beautiful high horse] on any sort of schedule. It's just when it seems needful or appropriate for the moment.
Feel free to use the video in whatever beneficial way you like! I hope it's helpful! Any more questions, feel free to ask. I love learning from other teachers, and if there's some small way I can contribute, I'm happy to do it.
Let me close with a few things I notice in Caroline's words:
- That intentionality of doing the same things from the same spots is sharp. She gives direct instruction from one spot; she does her “math is beautiful high horse” work from another.
- Her generosity of spirit. This is a person who shared with me (and through me, you) this unpolished glimpse into her classroom for the sake of contributing to a profession that's given her so much. I love that.
- Her “free lecture” concept. Notice that she teaches her students anything that they need to be successful in her class. She doesn't assume they know how to study; she teaches them how. She doesn't assume they know how to learn effectively; she teaches them how. This is so important for so many of the five key beliefs.
Now, go put some of these great things into your practice regimen, colleague! It's good stuff. It's so basic, but so good.