Take a few minutes and think about YOUR most creative educational experience. Perhaps it was a high school photography class where your final project encapsulated the skills you were learning with whatever you could dream up in your mind. Or maybe it was a middle school English class where the teacher challenged you to be a better writer through her humor, playfulness, and ability to model mistakes. What were some of the key characteristics of YOUR experience?
We asked seventy-five people to tell us about their most creative educational experience, and when we turned this into a word cloud, this is what we found:
“I was a senior in high school, taking Calculus 2. My teacher rarely lectured but supplied us with activities where we could work things out on our own. He had a way of pushing us to be independent thinkers. Yet, he was one of the least pushy people I’ve ever met. He was stoic, reflective, soft-spoken, and slightly mystical. Everything he did showed me what math was- reflection, trial and error, time spent in deep thought, and attention to detail. It was the complete opposite of teaching to a test, pushing to cover a section in a day, and worrying about timed tests. I felt valued, like what I was learning was more than just doing school work. We all realized that this was something special. We brought our best, which is quite different than striving to get an “A” or competing for class valedictorian. As a class, we were asked to individually come up with 50 exam questions for the Calculus 1 final. As a class, we then had to whittle all the individual submissions down to create a final that was reasonable for them. What a review and a study of educational assessment! This class is probably the one reason why I am a professor of math today.