Reading the article, “Understanding Change Through a High School Mathematics Teacher’s Journey to Inquiry-Based Teaching,” by Olive Chapman and Brenda Heater really reinforced many of my beliefs about teaching and learning math. There were only a few exceptions that made me feel a bit skeptical of the article and the message that was being conveyed. One example was when the authors discussed Brea and her “change.” They even stated that Brea was a “unique story of change” (pg 448) and the fact that they only had one teacher’s experience had me quite skeptic. I personally don’t believe that everyone will change as fast as Brea did, especially the teachers who have been teaching for many years. To get teacher’s to admit their own challenges/problems might pose as a difficult problem and could leave some teachers more upset than anything. So, my question is, how do we make these teachers realize the way that they have been teaching may not have been as effective as it could be?
Other than that, I agreed with most of the article. There were a few points, in particular, where I felt most connected to Brea. The first was the description of her initial thoughts before she developed a better understanding and awareness of inquiry. In the article, Brea thought that “[her] job was to simplify math” (pg 450) and that is how I still believe I should be teaching math with the addition that it should be for understanding as well as simplifying it.
Also, another point where I felt connected to Brea was when she stated: “At first I kept longing for someone to just show me what inquiry was” (pg 454). Since I have been introduced to the concept of inquiry, I continuously wanted (and still want) teachers to show me what inquiry looks like and how I can use it specifically in my classroom. I believe that in order for me to have a better understanding of inquiry, I will have to work at this and design inquiry activities on my own in order to develop this awareness of inquiry. This, however, is going to be my greatest challenge. My previous beliefs and ideas about teaching math were the same as my high school teacher and every time I am introduced to a new concept or get slightly out of my comfort zone, I immediately want to go back to these thoughts.
Also, I believe they hit a huge point when they discussed reflecting. I’m a huge believer in reflection (as I know many people are not such a fan of this), and I feel that it really helps me to learn, grow, and become more aware of what’s working and not working in my classroom.
Chapman, O., Heater, B. (October 7, 2010). Understanding Change Through A High School Mathematics Teacher’s Journey to Inquiry-Based Teaching. Journal Math Teacher Education, 13(6), pg. 445-458. DOI 10.1007/s108757-010-9164-6