I’m super excited!! Curtis Silver has posted his response to my homework help tips, “doing the math homework mind meld with your geeklet,” on Wired’s GeekDad blog!! Thanks, Curtis, for your thoughtful response!
Curtis’s use of the term “mind meld” made me laugh, but also brings up an important point. As a tutor, part of what I’m trying to do is to make my students more like me—to make them more persistent, better problem solvers, and more active learners.
But in order to accomplish this, I frequently make myself more like my students. Do you like visual explanations? Let’s draw it. Do you like to see an example? Let me show you five examples. Do you have a question? I will answer it 200 times until it is crystal-clear. I believe in “more of what works.”
What intrigues me is that it is such a two-way street. I expand my students’ tool kits by making them more like me, but they also expand my tool kit as a teacher and problem-solver by forcing me to consider solutions that I never would have seen without them.
The paradox of “mind meld” is that in order to “mind meld” with someone, you need to understand how your minds are different in order to become more similar. The differences are actually what unleash the potential for change and learning.
Also, I’m glad that Silver highlighted continuous interaction, which is a huge part of my tutoring philosophy. But I want to clarify something important.
Sometimes, when a kid gets in the “math zone” and is confidently solving a problem without making any mistakes, I’ve found it’s totally appropriate to say nothing at all.
You still give the kid your absolutely undivided attention and watch their every move to make sure they stay on track. But when a kid is on a roll, interrupting them for the sake of being interactive – even just to praise them – can be counterproductive.
Sometimes being involved as much as possible means giving your kid undivided attention while staying quiet until it’s time to speak up.