Young Closed Minds

If you have read my musings before, you know I teach high school mathematics. I work with Native Alaskan students who live in the bush of Alaska. The other week, I ran across a closed minded attitude that totally shocked me.

About half my students in one class told me in no uncertain terms that they cannot learn math by watching videos! I gather a teacher informed them it is not a skill needed in college. The teacher told me, I should not be integrating videos into my classes because professors only lecture at college and do not require students to view videos.

I fully disagree with her. If you take a distance class, the instruction is often either given or supplemented by requiring students to watch videos. I’ve taken classes which were heavily laced with videos. I’ve also used videos to supplement my own understanding of material.

After discussing this with a couple other teachers, I came to the conclusion that my students are passive watchers rather than active and do not know how to be active viewers since they are used to watching movies such as Cars 3, Pirates of the Caribbean or some horror flick.

To verify my conclusion, I polled my students to find out the number who watched You Tube to learn a new skill. I was shocked. Not a one of them has done this! I shared how I used a You Tube video to learn to soldier because one of my robots has a loose wire and I needed to repair it.

So this lead to my determination to teach them to watch a video actively. You might wonder what I mean by this. I used a site with videos that have questions embedded in them ( I show a video to my students. I stop it to discuss the important material written on the screen and I ask them to write it down in their notebooks.

When the video pauses with a question, I have them refer to the notes they’ve taken to help answer the question. I point to the screen to show them the information after they’ve tried to find the answer. I continue this through the whole film.

Research does indicate that videos with questions throughout do allow the student to process the information contained in it. It allows the student to learn but it must be done in an active manner.

So I will continue spending time over the next few weeks, helping them learn to become active learners and take control of their learning. I don’t plan to talk to the other teacher about her misinformed opinion but what hurts is that she is younger than I and uses less technology. In fact, she relies on worksheets more than anything else.

It is sad, I have to fight through young ones whose closed minds have convinced them, they cannot learn in any other manner than the way they’ve always done. My goal is to make these students more independent learners so once they’ve graduated, they can pursue their interests or go to college and do better than they might otherwise do.

Most of the students who go to college do not succeed. They are lucky to make it through their first semester. Many who claim they plan to go to college, never go because they end up starting a family shortly after graduating. I want them to pursue their interests even if they never leave the village.

Will I succeed? I don’t know but I am not going to give up. I can only keep trying and hope. Thank you for reading.