For our first assignment in the MAET here at Michigan State we were asked to come up with our “sentence”. For an explanation on this, see the video below.
In addition to coming up with a sentence we were also asked to find a fitting picture to overlay the sentence onto. Let me explain my picture and my sentence a bit. The sentence activity made me think about looking back at my life and how I’d want to sum it up. I hope that I look back and can say that I was leader and helped foster positive change wherever I worked. I think that a major part of my job as an educator, regardless of discipline, is to help students learn to think. We need a society that can really think critically and problem solve. We face a tremendous number of problems as a society and many of them are getting bigger and will impact future generations in a significant way. A society that can think, problem solve, and innovate is incredibly important. As a math teacher, I try hard to show students the importance of perseverance and divergent thinking. I think these are incredibly valuable and if I can look back and say that I helped students develop these characteristics consistently then I will be happy with the legacy I’ve left.
The picture is a graph of a chaotic function. If you zoom into the middle of it you see infinitely many oscillations at an increasing frequency. This looks, well… chaotic. I think this can be representative of the education world. It’s easy, if we don’t step back, to feel like we are in a maze of acronyms, new theories, mandates, and people that have the silver bullet to all things education. When we step back and look at this function, we start to see order. The height of the oscillations is governed by the black dotted lines. As educators I think it’s important to be able to step back and look at the broad patterns and trends. It’s important to see the big picture. If we zoom in too far for too long, we can lose focus of our primary goal. The key, I believe, is to be able to cut through the chaos, to find what is most valuable to student learning.