TITLE: Teaching for the Perplexed and the Traumatized AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 19, 2014 4:12 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Teaching for the Perplexed and the Traumatized On need for empathy when writing about math for the perplexed and the traumatized, Steven Strogatz says:
You have to help them love the questions.
Teachers learn this eventually. If students love the questions, they will do an amazing amount of working searching for answers. Strogatz is writing about writing, but everything he says applies to teaching as well, especially teaching undergraduates and non-majors. If you teach only grad courses in a specialty area, you may be able to rely on the students to provide their own curiosity and energy. Otherwise having empathy, making connections, and providing Aha! moments are a big part of being successful in the classroom. Stories trump formal notation. This semester, I've been trying a particular angle on achieving this trifecta of teaching goodness: I try to open every class session with a game or puzzle that the students might care about. From there, we delve into the details of algorithms and theoretical analysis. I plan to write more on this soon. -----