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Themyth of the good Mathematics teacher
Inthe article “The myth of the good Mathematics teacher” Giegerargues that the question of myth is of great significance in ourmodern discussion of effective teaching. According to (Gieger, 94), amyth has the power to change cultural events, which are communallyconstructed collection of occurrences, into reality. The author usesa true story of Jaime Escalante to support her main argument of thestrength of the myth of a good mathematics teacher. According toGeiger, the fact that the film is based on a story solidifies itmythically and in reality and makes it very strong. From our modernarguments’ on effective teaching, there is enough evidence that themyth has greatly influenced our current legislation just as Geigerpoints out. It is important to point out that Geiger is right inarguing that myths have greatly influenced our perception on goodmathematics teachers since many people believe that good mathematicsteachers are mainly self-made and experts in the field of mathematicswhich many of the times is not the case.
Thethree main myths from the Escalante film, 1) the teacher is selfmade, 2) the teacher is an expert and 3) everything depends on theteacher are so evident in our current classrooms since these are themyths which are influencing current legislation especially on teacherrecruitment and performance. From facts, a good teacher is mainlyjudged on good character, considerate, expressive, mature, good senseof humor among others (100). However, the article leaves the readerwith questions such as: what qualities should a teacher be judged on,myths or factual? Is it ethically right for legislators to passlegislations on education which are influenced by myths such as theones discussed by Geiger in her article?
Standand Deliver revisited
Accordingto Jesness, the story of Escalante the perfect mathematics teacherwho transformed a mathematics class from failing simple mathematicsto succeeding in calculus was adopted by many legislators andpreached in many schools (1). Jesness is however keen to point outthat the success story of teacher Escalante had both positive andnegative impacts. Just as Jesness argues, the Escalante story givesstudents a very wrong impression that they can neglect their studiesand redeem them within a short period of time through hard work.According to Jesness, when the Escalante’s’ calculus programcollapsed, very few people give it attention. This shows that in ourcurrent education systems, legislators and administrators are onlyinterested in success and not the means and strategies employed toattain success.
Fromthe article, Jesness describes the phrase “Stand and Deliver” asthe patience, determination, discipline and hard work to achieve acertain goal (3). However, stand and deliver from the film ofEscalante was misunderstood my many to mean hard work within a shortperiod of time to deliver good results. Jesness argues that stand anddeliver doe not only require patience, discipline and hard work butalso support from colleagues. From the article, the calculus programdid not become a success till a new school principle Gradillas, whogave Escalante all the support he needed. The main question arisingfrom this article is, do current school administrators have thepatience to wait for their teachers to stand and deliver? Are ourcurrent teachers able to give all their best patiently in order tostand and deliver? Is it good for school administrators to wait onlyupon success and not bother to know the means and strategies ofachieving it?
GiegerJudith Lynn. The Myth of the Good Mathematics Teacher. PrimusXVII (1): 93-102, 2007.
JesnessJerry. Standand Deliver Revisited:The untold story behind the famous rise — and shameful fall — ofJaime Escalante, America`smaster math teacher, 2002.