statistics and more damn statistics…

Way back in time I went to university. I went for several reasons but mainly I think because it was most like school and I wasn’t ready for the wide world. It was sheltered and I like that kind of learning. I loved it… more the lifestyle than the actual being taught stuff bit, but it was OK as I knew how to pass tests.

I went back as an adult student to do teachers college and it was a different experience. I was still somewhat subservient to the teachers but I was more motivated to speak in tutorials, more able to get what I wanted out of the course and did the work and achieved high marks. I was more focused. Towards the end and certainly in retrospect I became openly critical of the process. I was still motivated to pass so did as I was told -if in doubt follow the RUBRIC. But I guess if you are a learner learning about teaching and one of the key tenets of being a good teacher is being reflective (something ‘taught’ to me at teachers college that I agreed with, or was it that I just had this confirmed…) you are going to reflect on the experience.

After my child was born I went back for the third time to study a course I had done before, Statistics. The first time I was 19, I had to do it as a prerequisite, hated it and got 51% and was ecstatic. The second time I got over 90% and I’m annoyed that I stuffed up one of the exam questions due to time? stress? bad literacy? It was the same course, I suspect you could go over my notes and see this. I was the thing that was different. I was doing it because I considered doing a Public Health degree, well until the $$$ got in the way. It’s not financial sense at my age with no house to go into debt to do a degree which you have to grovel for grants to even work in and wouldn’t even get paid enough to pay back the debt. Such a shame as it is the good fight and you could actually make a difference (depending of course on the government of the day), it’s excellent practical science and full of people. I over heard a man talking about his daughter at university and how he told her that she had to do particular courses so she didn’t  have a useless arts degree, the getting a job reason. I guess she will get some opportunities later to work what interests her?…. to do what she likes? maybe when she is middle aged? when she knows her own mind? I guess she won’t be being a learner for fun.

I digress, back to Stats 193. Where I was the variable.

I was interested
I was motivated
I saw the point of it
I saw the point of doing the examples
I went over my work when I got stuff wrong
I read the textbook when I didn’t understand
I went to the tutorials
I asked questions
I myself said I HAD to do it
I was proving a point (baby brain IS a myth)

This all meant I was the boss of my learning because I was motivated and even when there were bits I didn’t like/wasn’t as interested in I could see the big picture, the why. It’s a quantifiable big jump 51% to 90 something % (they no longer give out the marks). Sample size of one of course…

Have I have proved that it is the learner that does the thing that leads to success? Hmmm does that mean that all we need to do is ‘inspire’ 5 year olds to totally want to achieve at the expected level of mathematics as defined by the powers that be at that age?? Label the point, the reason for the learning in big neon lights? Motivate them. NO, I feel this is the ‘make the kids fit the paradigm’ argument after all I knew at 18 how to achieve, I could have asked, gone to tutorials and got help, I had all the above skills and I applied them when I saw fit…. it just was NOT the RIGHT time. No amount of trying to convince me would have given me that kind of motivation- I was motivated by the fear of failure on the whole and by some interesting courses but I was more absorbed/fulfilled by my happy life outside university.

What I want for my child is for her to be the boss of her learning. What I need to do to help her is let her be motivated by her interests, what she can see the point in, even if I think it’s dumb. What I can do is model how one can go about achieving success in ones interests, how to get over the dull bits, and when the 51% is a good option…..