Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Our new metaphor

Over the weekend I was vacuuming, which I find cathartic but that's another story, and was thinking about school.  An old saying popped into my mind: "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime."  This quote is by a Jewish Spanish philosopher named Maimonides.

I wrote the quote on my white board; however, I wrote give, a day, teach, and lifetime in another color.  At the beginning of each period I had the class read the quote and I asked them what it means.  Each student was correct in their interpretation.

I then asked them why I chose to write those specific words in color.  I got, "You wanted them to stand out." or "They are important."  Well, yes, that is correct but I wanted more information.  I had to prompt them more.  From each class I finally got that they saw the quote as a metaphor for our new PBL class.  SCORE!

My next question was: is it easier to be given a fish to eat or fish for it, reel it in, clean it and then prepare it?  Every time I was told that getting a fish is easier.  I then asked them which class is easier: the old way of me talking and assigning work or the new way.  I got, "I like this way better".  I had to remind students that this is not what I asked.  I then repeated the question, "Which class set up is easier."  That is when I saw the lightbulbs go off: yes students, this way is harder and you are going to have to dig in to get the "fish".  However, when you work for something you are going to retain that information much longer.

I'll keep the quote up.

Happy Teaching!

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