Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Topic: Math, Science and English

10-second review: The teachers of math, science and English need to talk to each other to discuss the ideas they have in common.

Title: “Literature, Logic and Language.” MA Dakin. English Journal (July 2010), 18-20.

Summary: The essence of science, math and literature is logic and language. We need to connect again with our sister disciplines to learn from each other.

Quote: “I do not think the discipline of English needs to be remade: like the cross-communicating hemispheres of a single brain it needs to be re-connected.”

Quote: “If there is a family of universal languages, then math, science and English are the mother tongues of the 21st century, but our students lack fluency in all three.”

Comment: Way back in the 60’s, I was privileged to be involved in an experiment. The middle school was divided into six teams of teachers, each team consisting of a math, science, English and social studies teacher with a group of 100 or so students. Half of each day was allotted for team planning. It was our hope that the four teachers from different disciplines would talk together, learn from each other, plan together and discover ways in which they could produce common units.

They did and they didn’t. One team did exactly as we had hoped. One team sometimes did as we had hoped and the other four teams stayed within their disciplines and taught their subjects in isolation of each other. Sandy Smith, who was a member of the team that worked together, said, “The more you try to do it, the more ways you find for crossing the borders of the different disciplines.”

I think it is time for the disciplines to work together. But it will take teachers who are willing to learn from teachers of other disciplines.

It is common sense, however, that the four teachers cannot always work on units together. One teacher of math said to me, “Math is math.” Forcing teachers to work in common units or on common themes all the time is a strait jacket that does not allow for the necessity to teach math as math or English as English when it is appropriate. RayS.

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