
I'm mad. I'm pissed. I can't take it anymore. This woman might be the most infuriating teacher I've ever had. She's using our class as a guinea pig to see whether the "discover" method of learning is effective. What is "discover" learning? Basically it translates into her handing us a worksheet of math riddles and waiting for us to figure out what Algebraic principle gives us the solution (hence the term "discover"). This is stupid. She could easily just tell us what to do and then spend the rest of our time in class letting us practice what she's teaching; instead we're basically sitting there with our fingers up our bums because oh hey guess what WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE'RE DOING AND YOU NEED TO TEACH US.
I'm doing fine in the class with a high B but I know that I'd do so much better if she'd actually just teach us the content. Today's exam was a perfect example: I'm sure I did okay on most of the problems, but since I've been teaching myself this whole time I don't really know. Why am I paying tuition to teach myself? I could go to a library for free and receive the same education. And the last problem oh my freaking peanut butter sandwich did that last problem kill everyone in the room. It was a word problem that had absolutely no relation to what we did in class. She said we'd go over it before the test but then changed her mind because surprise we didn't have enough time. So basically I dropped a letter grade on my test because she didn't feel like actually teaching today, or any other day, what the heck that problem had anything to do with. The book for whatever reason also didn't connect the word problems to the concept.
I'm really hoping she just ignores that problem for the test since no one knew what the heck to do (and she knows that), but I dunno. What sucks is that about ten minutes after the exam ended I figured out a bootleg way to get the answer, something that would have gotten me at least partial credit, but whatever.
Her pedagogy is awful. It makes no sense. I could understand it within the context of a Lit or Language class, but Algebra? Concrete hard immovable numbers and procedures? You want us to "discover" how to divide quadratic equations? Why spend two class periods letting us dawdle on some mythical math puzzle when you could just give us an example on the board and actually walk us through the steps like an actual professor? This isn't elementary school. I don't want to "discover" addition by looking at two bannannas and eating one bannanna and figuring out that I have one bannanna left. Just tell me that 2  1 equals one freaking bannana.
I'm praying I get at least a B on that exam, but man is this class a drag and literal waste of time. I enjoy math and the process of learning, but someone in that classroom is not doing her job.

Sounds pretty shitty. Luckily you are good enough at math, and learning on your own, to manage decently. If you were someone who has trouble with math, who needs help from the teacher (which is what the teacher is supposed to do, lol) then you'd be fucked.

Too bad you aren't enjoying it. Maybe your prof isn't doing it well if no guidance is provided. I have heard that this method is very effective for some students in that they retain what they have learned much better than tradition methods. However for a first year course(I assume from the 111 code) I don't know if it is appropriate.

That's unbelievably stupid... Just teach the material then give problems to practice it with. Then, add a problem here and there that is just slightly beyond what was taught (but still realistic to figure out with only what was taught) to allow for the discovery bit.

Hard to say for this case specifially, but I think that learning to find answers yourself is a way more valuable life skill than the ability to memorise information that's being spoon fed to you. Grades aren't going to be useful when you're done with school, knowing how to solve a problem yourself will.

Meh, it's not necessarily the worst method. When I was studying math at uni, they basically threw homework questions (prove this, prove that) at us fully expecting us to take 2+ hours per question. You won't really learn how to prove stuff if you don't do that though. You need to fry your own brain until you finally get the hang of it.
Whether the method is appropriate for your course though, no idea.

On October 25 2012 03:21 Zortch wrote: Too bad you aren't enjoying it. Maybe your prof isn't doing it well if no guidance is provided. I have heard that this method is very effective for some students in that they retain what they have learned much better than tradition methods. However for a first year course(I assume from the 111 code) I don't know if it is appropriate.
That's bullshit lololol
The whole point of having a class with a teacher is so that the teacher can tell you a) what you're doing wrong/not doing right enough b) tell you something that you might not have thought of to facilitate your learning
I mean, who the fuck other than maybe Max Planck is going to go "OH SHIT SO THE ANSATZ WAS E^RX" in the middle of a problem that they've never directly encountered before, without asking the teacher or searching inefficient amts of resources (either of which defeats the point).
Jesus Christ some teachers.

for math this is actually a very appropiate way to learn stuff. If however it's just a 111 class and the students have no intention to go further in this field it might not be most time efficient but really understanding why stuff works because you find out yourself somewhat is so much more valuable then memorizing proofs etc.

On October 25 2012 03:40 ymir233 wrote:Show nested quote +On October 25 2012 03:21 Zortch wrote: Too bad you aren't enjoying it. Maybe your prof isn't doing it well if no guidance is provided. I have heard that this method is very effective for some students in that they retain what they have learned much better than tradition methods. However for a first year course(I assume from the 111 code) I don't know if it is appropriate.
That's bullshit lololol The whole point of having a class with a teacher is so that the teacher can tell you a) what you're doing wrong/not doing right enough b) tell you something that you might not have thought of to facilitate your learning I mean, who the fuck other than maybe Max Planck is going to go "OH SHIT SO THE ANSATZ WAS E^RX" in the middle of a problem that they've never directly encountered before, without asking the teacher or searching inefficient amts of resources (either of which defeats the point). Jesus Christ some teachers.
It is effective. Maybe not for math class, but for memorization it's great.
Oh course it has to be well structured (IE read this chapter, then answer these questions). I was in pharmacy school in Montreal and pretty much the entire program is structured that way.

Problem with math is it can be ridiculously hard to figure out on your own whilst it might be very easy to understand if it were simply explained. I agree math wouldve been hell if my teachers had used this method.

Your teacher is bad, and she should feel bad.
But as mentioned, at least you can decently teach yourself. Would be even shittier if you had difficulties with math.

what kind of stuff do you learn in 111?

On October 25 2012 04:44 solidbebe wrote: Problem with math is it can be ridiculously hard to figure out on your own whilst it might be very easy to understand if it were simply explained. I agree math wouldve been hell if my teachers had used this method.
But IMO if you figure it out on your own you understand it much better than if you're directly taught it. Of course the "if you figure it out on your own" is a huge if, but the method at least has advantages in theory. In practice the difficulty of that part tends to be too large..
There's a huge difference between being actually understanding the material deeply and getting an A by being able to solve direct applications of a method .

Like it or not this is how math actually is later on. University level and up becomes progressively more like this method. Teachers set the stage for a problem and help a student if they have questions  but it's up to the student to bang your head against the problem for a long time. Being spoonfed equations where you just plug in values for answers doesn't really teach you very much in the long run; understanding the why of an answer is more important than the answer itself.
Now perhaps this method isn't as applicable to an introductory algebra class, but maybe it is. Either way you've got to deal with it. To be perfectly honest from how you've written your post I can tell your attitude is bad, you've essentially shut down. You need to grow up and roll with the punches. Try your best, and lean on the teacher when you need help. Don't expect the teacher to spoonfeed the answer, you've got to work for yourself. Stay positive, you can learn this stuff.
I've got a B.S in Physics, a M.S. in EE, and I'm starting a PhD in EE while working in industry. My favorite assignments from school (and work for that matter) are when I have to do independent research to solve a problem.

On October 25 2012 03:39 Saechiis wrote: Hard to say for this case specifially, but I think that learning to find answers yourself is a way more valuable life skill than the ability to memorise information that's being spoon fed to you. Grades aren't going to be useful when you're done with school, knowing how to solve a problem yourself will.
Well, it's probably pretty basic algebra so unless she wants them to proof that (lulz) it's not as if looking at 10 different equations and trying to find the ''rule'' that governs them is any more useful than giving them the rule in the first place.
Like it or not this is how math actually is later on. University level and up becomes progressively more like this method. Teachers set the stage for a problem and help a student if they have questions  but it's up to the student to bang your head against the problem for a long time. Being spoonfed equations where you just plug in values for answers doesn't really teach you very much in the long run; understanding the why of an answer is more important than the answer itself.
Now perhaps this method isn't as applicable to an introductory algebra class, but maybe it is. Either way you've got to deal with it. To be perfectly honest from how you've written your post I can tell your attitude is bad, you've essentially shut down. You need to grow up and roll with the punches. Try your best, and lean on the teacher when you need help. Don't expect the teacher to spoonfeed the answer, you've got to work for yourself. Stay positive, you can learn this stuff.
I agree, but really, the why answer in math is usually in the form of a proof, right? I doubt she is teaching them proofs.
On a side note: This is my biggest problem with Math. That I never understand where shit comes from. It's great I have this ''technique'' for finding(?) the differential equation but I never understood how they got that particular rule, and when they do give some sort of proof for the rule they proof it in the same ''system'' so to say and it just seems like circular reasoning to me.

On October 25 2012 03:09 jeeeeohn wrote: I could go to a library for free and receive the same education.
Guess what, going to a library and learning stuff on your own IS the best education. Ideally you should be doing 80% of the work yourself (split between thinking about stuff freeform and working throught books at your own pace) and only asking for help when you get stuck.
Of course you'll get the quadratic formula faster if someone just tells you what it is. But if you actually "discover" it you will A) remember it better, B) have a better understanding of where it's coming from, C) will have the experience of actually figuring something out on your own.
Remembering and applying formulas (or streamlined methods for solving word problems) is a lowlevel skill. You want to be able to apply these methods in unusual contexts. Or even develop your own, when needed.
I agree it's unfair that you get a lower grade because your teacher is trying something new. And it's even possible that she's doing the discovery method poorly, maybe giving too much or too little guidance. But the basic idea IS sound. Indeed, it's better than the old way of focusing on memorization and application.

Don't you have some kind of textbook or other materials? You don't necessarily have to learn everything on your own in the sense that you "discover", you could learn from sources other than your teacher who is clearly not doing her job.

You need to calm down here and realize that some of the issues you have in this class are not the teacher's fault.
As someone who tutors first gen and disabilitybased college students, this is the method that I use the most when my tutees come to me with problems. It's not some absolutely bullshit method nor is your teach fucking it up. Your class is suppose to work together to figure it out, whatever "it" might be. You might have to consult nontraditional resources like web sites or whatever, but you will do this much later and it also provides you with much more flexibility once you start having to apply concepts across subjects or fields of study (the earliest one you'll encounter is like basic Chemistry and Math or Physics and Math).
To give an example, I have plenty of tutees who made As in their college math classes and I can tell just from doing their problems in other courses (like intro Physics) that they only monkeyseemonkeydo their way through those courses. They can't see shortcuts in physics (basically to the point where it's just a math problem) problems because they weren't taught that way. I show them shortcuts and it's like wtfmagic look on their faces most times, because again, they were only taught to do problems one way and they can't even stretch their train of thinking to outside of that tiny little box.
Now what does that have to do with your ALG 111 class? The method used by your teacher tries to avoid all of that bullshit because bottlenecking the fuck out of your thinking skills will kill you down the line in other courses. If you take a minute and focus on the task at hand and try to garner something from it rather than stay mad (frustrated better word imo) at the process, you'll realize that sooner rather than later.
As for anyone who's arguing that all of this is the teacher's job, sure, but how do you account for all of the learning styles present? Do you just tell the kids who have learning styles not suited to the teaching style tough luck? The reason why this discover method works because the "smarter" kids or kids who get a topic particularly well can teach it back to the others in many different ways and more importantly in a nonrestricting manner. The teacher can't do this for various reasons.
Anyone who helped their classmates or friends through a course (I mean the fucking person that leads the study groups) knows that teaching it is the best way to verify that you know the material, likewise your friends probably understands it much better coming from you than someone in an official teaching capacity.
As for the lower grade, that's on you. What is stopping you from getting additional help from a myriad of resources? Better question, does anyone else have an A in this class? What are they doing that you're not?

I agree a lot with the Judicator's post. Currently I'm pursuing my own undergraduate math degree at a Top10 program in the country and I work in the university's Math Help Lab, while also tutoring Linear Algebra students oneonone.
For most of the people I tutor oneonone, Linear Algebra is the first proofbased course they have ever taken, and it kills them. Even after weeks working with the same concepts, students can barely convert the proof's hypothesis to words; they can't even start the problem for themselves. Even though I've only been working with proofs for just over a year, I can normally see the answers to their questions immediately, without having the proof memorized. Most of these students have made significant progress in Mathematics (at least three, probably four semesters of calculus), yet as soon as the problems stray from simple plug and chug, they are lost.
Although many of my friends complain about the difficulty of introductory calculus classes (Calc1 and Calc2 are the two most failed classes at the university), I personally believe they also force the student to learn much more than your average class. Sometimes banging your head against the wall for a little while is the best way to actually learn something. Spoonfeeding students the answers to anything doesn't teach them much, only an algorithm, whereas learning comes with actually interacting with the material.

As a math educator, I agree quite a bit with Judicator and ShoreT.
Discoverybased learning is a more popular and progressive style of instruction where the education comes less and less from lecturing (read as: the teacher stands in front of you and dictates exactly what you need to memorize for the exam, as you write every note down furiously, verbatim) and more and more from students working together on problems and the professors/ teachers guiding instruction by providing helpful hints and keeping students on track when necessary.
It's found to be quite effective, since students are actually the ones solving the problems (mostly on their own through collaboration). Obviously, the instructors need to make sure students are kept on task and aren't completely lost, but the potential for success is quite high.
If the teacher is new, try to sympathize with her. I understand that you may want the answers handed to you on a silver platter, but if you figure out the material on your own (with guided instruction, which is what your teacher most likely wants), the topics will stick with you more easily and for longer.
I do this for all my math students, and I've taught kids from elementary school to college.



