The remarkable thing about teaching, something maybe only teachers know and understand, is that the courses one develops and teaches become incredibly, unbelievably, and almost inexplicably personal. The three maths education courses I have taught in the Education Department at St. Mike's for the last several years are each unique and exclusively my own creations. Yes, of course there are curriculum standards and teaching standards that have to be addressed but my courses are my personal interpretations of those standards. I use the philosophical theories that I have experienced and developed over the past forty something years to operationalize those standards for my students. I use the experiences I have had teaching maths to children to illustrate and exemplify those theories and ideas with inspiring stories.
Each course I teach is characterized by an emotional set regarding the content I teach. I choose to focus more on those things that I truly believe work and cause my students to think. I minimize the time I spend discussing and exploring things that I know create negative feelings or are just "tricks of the trade" so to speak. I believe that to teach maths one must intellectualize the process, base ones practices on well reasoned theory or, as John Dewey said, we must use our "executive means" to get as close as we can to our "inspired vision". One must listen to children speaking mathematically and get to know what they think mathematically. One must know, understand, and love the maths intimately. My students were always actively involved in their learning by doing, talking, thinking and reflecting.
I cannot believe how difficult this is;quitting cold turkey, the sense of being shut out, stopping teaching, not meeting my students each week, not reading papers, not standing in front of the class, not telling stories, not conferencing with students about their dreams and aspirations, not talking with colleagues, not helping students over their maths anxiety, not lighting up students' eyes about the joys and wonders of learning and teaching mathematics.
I hope there's a way I can continue to be a part of the maths education community and make a positive contribution in some way.