At the beginning of the year, I started this tradition where each Thursday (after having been to grad school the night before) I would bring in a journal entry or something that I was thinking about and discuss it with the students. I thought it was cool for them to see that their teacher is still learning and constantly thinking about becoming a better teacher (and person). At first, they thought I was a little weird but now it has evolved into this anticipatory event each week that we call "Thoughtful Thursday" (unless the schedule necessitates moving it to the next day, in which case we call it "Filosophical Friday"). Last week my thought was about viewing the world through a mathematical lens. I told them that, often, I have toast in the morning and that the piece of bread I use is so big that I need to cut it in half in order to fit it in the toaster. Naturally, this leaves me with two pieces of bread. I also like to spread Laughing Cow cheese on my toast. The Laughing Cow cheeses come in these awesome little wedges and EVERY time I go to cut the cheese (I hear your snickering….grow up), I ask myself this question:
Where do I need to cut in order to guarantee that I get an equal amount of cheese on each piece of toast?
Of course, you could make a vertical cut and get a close estimation but I'm always more interested in the horizontal cut. Anyways, my point for "Thoughtful Thursday" was simply that looking at the world through a mathematical lens inspires us to 1. ask questions about the world we live in and 2. try to make sense of them in the best way we can. I left it at that.
The next day when the students walked, this happened:
Student: Mr. Meyer…are we gonna solve that cheese problem today?!?
Me: Wait, you mean you actually want to figure it out?
Student: Well….<shrugs shoulders>…yeah
Me: Do you think anyone else is interested?
Student: I don't know.
Me: <Asks the class how many would be interested in attempting the question>
Class: <3/4 of them raise their hand>
How much different would this have been if I just brought in this question and "forced" them to work on it? Not sure. Teaching is fascinating.