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More-than-Student |


An article about the psychological impact the traditional educational method has on the student. This article was written by Brendan Schatzki last year -when he was a college freshman.

Highlights "...A first-grade memory has my teacher asking if one can subtract a number from a smaller number, to which the entire class- except for me- replied in unison: "No," ...I, meanwhile, asked, "what about negative numbers?"

-Read the whole article.



I have always been a rebel in neglecting utterly the psychological impact the traditional educational method has on the student. A first-grade memory has my teacher asking if one can subtract a number from a smaller number, to which the entire class- except for me- replied in unison: "No," providing the information that they'd been fed since pre-school. I, meanwhile, asked, "what about negative numbers?"


Brendan Schatzki Naturally, the teacher told me to be quiet. But how did I know? How could a first grader like me even comprehend the concept of negative numbers? Simple. I loved math. My father, who taught high school math at the time, would tell me about negative numbers when I told him I couldn't subtract a small number from a large number. I delved into the subject, and soon, as a first-grader, understood the concept of negative numbers. I even figured out on my own that reversing the order of a subtraction operation would just give me the negative version of the answer to the original operation.


Instead of a personal anecdote about how the subject of math has evolved in my eyes, I could have told the story completely impersonally: "A first grader asks his teachers about negative numbers just to be silenced . . ." I would not do that, however, for I was trying to convey my own personal invalidatable opinion, as opposed to trying to put across a universal idea, which should be taken more seriously.


In more recent years I began to care less and less about math. Why? Most likely it was because I had reached a point where I could just not figure things out on my own anymore; the inverse operation, factoring, summations, and most other concepts escaped me because I stopped being fed the answers "why," and I began to be forced into the drilling, the memorization, the overemphasized qualities of hard work and discipline, and all the other "good qualities" of a successful student.


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more-than-student | article | psychological impact | traditional | educational method

More than Student: An article about the psychological impact the traditional educational method has on the student. "...A first-grade memory has my teacher asking if one can subtract a number from a smaller number, to which the entire class- except for me- replied in unison: "No," ...I, meanwhile, asked, "what about negative numbers?"



A successful student, perhaps. But a successful learner? Not so much. I'm still frustrated with the methods by which math is taught. I feel cheated that a subject which I used to love and still want to love is becoming banal and fruitless, boring and trite.


Most dictionaries loosely define "learning" as "the accumulation of knowledge" or "a process in memorization." I disagree. Learning is a change in behavior, the moment when everything in your head clicks and you scream "AHA!" and your behavior changes as a result.


Not many people can say that they experience those moments on a consistent basis. I am lucky, as I have tuned myself to turn most experiences into "AHA!" moments. I am more than a student; I am a learner.


Read the corresponding article
by Ralph Schatzki
Brendan's father.




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