I was fortunate enough to be invited (by the primary school that my daughter attends) to hear one of the most inspirational speakers I have ever heard – Sue Palmer
. It was a dark and windy wet night and I had second thoughts about trudging out at 7.30pm to hear what she had to say. She talked about why we find it difficult to cope with children and teenagers at home and at school, or as her book
puts it “How the modern world is damaging our children and what we can do about it”. There were so many different aspects that she covered and not the one answer we were all hoping for! Perhaps you could add your thoughts to a mathemapedia entry
Her research goes back to birth and initially she discussed about the design of the modern pram and the introduction of daytime television or electronic babysitters! The pram was designed with the child facing forwards because it had to be smaller than the older version of a perambulator. The design had nothing to do with what would be most appropriate for the child but a) it had to fit into the boot of a car and b) the seat of the child being nearest the “pusher” meant the most suitable design to prevent it toppling over. With this being the winning design, children no longer had their “mothers” face to stare at and pick up on their every word. Noisy traffic and other distractions, electronic babysitters and many other factors have led to the child not being as perceptive to socialising and language development. Perhaps this is what leads to the grunting teenager who finds it difficult to hold a conversation. Long gone are the days when punishment at home would be to send the child to his/her room. Now it would be more of a punishment for the child to sit around the table and have a family meal.
Children’s development and their capacity to learn have been effected by the influence of contemporary culture. A child’s emotional intelligence and self-image can have a real impact on learning in the mathematics classroom. You may like to read, and add to, the following Mathemapedia entries
Obstacles to Learning
Developing New Student Selves
With us adults living at electric speed, we have had an exponential learning curve and have had to deal with PC’s, laptops, e-mail, the world wide web, cable, satellite, digital TV, camcorders, DVD, PlayStations, computer games, iPods, mobile phones, text messaging, camphones and so on in a very short time span. We are fortunate to live at a time when this global village is expanding at such a fast rate, we manage to keep up with electric speed. Children, however, are not fully developed adults and still need to acquire the basics of human development, empathy, focussed attention, deferred gratification and self control. Perhaps these habits can’t be developed at such an electric speed.
Have you ever heard Sue Palmer speak? What do you think about what her research shows? What experiences do you have of children’s learning being helped or hindered as a result of their emotional background? How can we, as teachers of mathematics, contribute to ECM and ensuring that children’s selves develop in our classroom? Post your thoughts in the secondary forum