Delhi Math Club
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Making sense of the learner’s perspective

A few months ago, I was reading this story in a book. The teacher asks a boy, “If I give you one orange, then another, and then I give you one more, how many oranges do you have now?

The boy answers “Five”!

The teacher thinks that perhaps the child did not get the question right. She also knows that the child should not have so much difficulty since the concept was taught only yesterday.

She tries again bringing some more warmth and affection in her voice. “Ravi, if I gave you an orange and then one more orange and then one more, how many would you have?”

“Five, ma’am”, the child answers earnestly, hoping desperately to not disappoint the teacher.

The teacher thinks that perhaps the child doesn’t like oranges and decides to try with grapes.

“Ravi, if I gave you a grape, and then another grape and then one more, how many would have?”

“Three, ma’am”

The teacher is visibly relieved! She wants to try again with oranges.

“Ravi, lets do it again with oranges. If I gave you one orange, then another and then one more, how many would you have?”

“Five, ma’am”!

The teacher is bewildered but curious.

“Ravi, when I asked you this question about grapes you answered three, but when I ask you with oranges, you answer Five. How can that be?”

“Because, I have two oranges are in my bag ”

Most of the times teachers are very keen or over enthusiastic about “telling” the learners in the name of imparting the knowledge that we possess. Rarely does the learner’s already exist perspective taken into account.

As a teacher we often believe in the virtue of hard work. And so we don’t mind repeating ourselves over and over again till our viewpoint is meekly accepted. Of course, we like to believe that it has been understood.

But isn’t it like playing a Spanish song over and over again and believing that the listener will understand it eventually?



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