Dealing with the fear of being a boring teacher.


How I Teach Calculus: A Comedy (I Dreamed a Dream)

Can I come up with something so compelling that my students are powerless against its curiousness?

Like some sort of pedagogical epistemologist, can I distill down the essence of inquiry to a single statement?

Can I teach calculus by saying one thing, on the very first day, that forces my students to derive the rest with only mild shepherding?

Here are my candidates:

  1. How many humans have there been, total?
  2. How do ants work?

I read a lot about how to teach math. I worry a lot about how the narrative will go. I make sure each lesson is connected, and that students have the chance to come up with at least the impetus for new skills before I lay down the soul-crushing blow dealt by dry-erase-marker-cum-Thor’s-hammer that is “Notes: Chapter 2.3 – The Product Rule.”

Can a course be motivated by one, beautiful question? Will it grow and send chutes into the unploughed earth rendering it mathematically fruitful?

A teacher can dream, right?

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Shawn Cornally • March 28, 2011

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