Thursday, October 7, 2010

Massey update

It's been a while since I posted about life here at Massey College, so I thought it apropos for a few quick thoughts.
It looks as though this term I'm settled into two courses-- The Battles over History Education and Issues in Literacy and Numeracy -- both at OISE. Some recent attempts to join some interesting courses elsewhere are being met with either erroneous information / incorrect time tables or, in one case, a professor who perhaps rightly stated I shouldn't have waited until week five of a 12-week term.
I am adoring the two courses I'm auditing, and perhaps auditing them with enough vigour (OK, that does sound odd) that any person watching over my shoulder at the college won't get too pissy.
Battles over History Education has become a weekly conversation on why we should be teaching history in schools. Guided by our readings every week (including reading a whole book in a week for this past week's seminar -- what the professor would call a "graduate-level" pace), we hash out what each has to say about why history should be taught in schools and how it should be taught. I've left class on a couple of occasions with my brain just bursting, but have come to realize that's why I'm here. I want my brain to hurt a little (I certainly don't have the academic reading-retention skills I may once have attained) because the reality of my newsroom life right now is that it doesn't get challenged in this manner.
The six-week numeracy section of the literacy and numeracy course has simply been devine. A good portion of this is the professor -- who instructs the class in such a manner I wish I'd had this prof throughout all of my math courses and my entire B.Journ. program. Each Wednesday morning, she keeps pushing this group of teacher candidates to forget all the bad ways we've been taught math and learn how to teach math in a way that keeps students involved and creates / continues a collaborative, conversational culture in classrooms.
Both of these courses are feeding my policy wonk / article I will write before leaving journalism desire to gain a better understanding of what we're teaching our teachers and even providing a tentative first few steps towards evaluating whether we're doing it well.
In the meantime, the journalism program components are just flying by. We've already organized and hosted two lunchtime seminars -- with Mozilla Foundation's Matt Thompson last week and Charles Pascal this week -- and have guests confirmed until the last week of this term and several weeks into the next term. I've volunteered to be the point-person in the group as we organize and liaise with the German consulate for what will undoubtedly be a very fast-paced trip to Berlin from Dec. 5-11.
College life has continued to be superb. The founders of this college and those who have guided it since have created a wonderful environment for interdisciplinary exchange at all levels. I've pretty much decided that should I ever decide to pursue graduate-level education, I will be taking a serious look at the programs here at the U of T and applying to be a fellow at Massey College.


Doretta Wilson said...

Hugo, that math teaching prof scares the heck out of me. No wonder private tutoring businesses are booming.

Education Reporter said...


Please don't make a hasty judgment based on a few sentences in my post. This is not a case of scenery over substance. The prof is simply showing the teacher candidates that there are many, many more ways to teach math and mathematical thinking than the way we may have been taught in our own schooling.

Her name is Cathy Marks Krpan for anyone interested in scoping her research out.


Anonymous said...

It's called dumbing down math skills to the lowest common denominator ER.

What you're witnessing is a salvo launched against learning basic skills using Saxon math that most of us grew up learning.

Education Reporter said...

Anon 11 Oct. 16:32
Again, I would caution making quick judgments based on anything I post here. Go scope out her research, maybe call her up and talk about what she's teaching and I'm sure your statement would lose some of its curmudgeonliness.

Certainly, the math concepts we've been discussing are not any dumber than the math I remember learning at that age 20 to 25 years ago. I just wished I'd been taught them as well as Marks Krpan is showing-- perhaps my distaste for math would never have developed. I've always had a brain for math, but always detested it. I'm realizing part of this may have just been the methods used to teach it to me.

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but this class is geared towards junior-intermediate (Grades 4-9).