Sunday, August 9, 2009

Article: Learning to listen: from historical sources to classroom practice

Abraham Arcavi and Masami Isoda: Learning to listen: from historical sources to classroom practice, Educational studies in mathematics (2007) 66: 111-129.

For prospective teachers, it is important to learn to listen to their students. There are several challenges to this, however, and the main idea of this article is that maybe prospective teachers can learn to listen by "listening" to historical texts. As when listening to students, "listening" to a historical text involves taking another person's perspective. The historical text, however, has a certain authority that makes it harder to ignore - while teachers may ignore students' attempts and instead just teach them "the right way".

The authors make a distinction between "evaluative listening" and "attentive listening". I surely recognize this distinction - at times, I will notice that I'm not exactly listening to what the student is saying, instead I'm listening FOR something particular. I'm waiting for the student to say what I want to hear instead of trying to make sense of what he is actually saying. In teaching based on constructivism, of course attentive listening is necessary.

The particular examples of history of mathematics that the authors used in their teaching, are from Egyptian mathematics, for instance the Egyptian method of multiplication. I agree that this is a good example to use (see also an earlier post on this (in Norwegian).

I also agree with the authors that as well as a collection of good ideas for use in teacher education, we also need good examples of students' work as a next step in "learning to listen", after working on the history of mathematics.

No comments:

Post a Comment