A hassle map for Year 10 mathematics? You can’t focus on the negatives?

Came across the idea of a hassle map via the following tweet from @susangautsch retweeted by @michaelbtw. It’s generated two immediate responses

  1. Is it an option for the Year 10 mathematics class I’m going to be teaching?
  2. What do all the happy clappy, Appreciative Inquiry type folk think of this?

Year 10 Mathematics

In a week and a bit I start my teaching internship. 6 weeks of 5 days a week at school responsible for 3 classes/lines. Essentially a 50% teacher’s load. One of the classes I’ll be teaching is Year 10 Core Mathematics. A description of cohort in this class is offered in an earlier post. It’s by no means the worst example of high school mathematics I’ve seen, but there’ always room for improvement.

One of the improvements I wanted to try was to give the students a bit more of a say in how the class runs. At least as much as I can within the constraints of the context. In part because I want to build the relationships a bit more, in part because I’d like the students to recognise some of the constraints and to take some ownership of either developing some solutions or figuring out how to live within those constraints.

Another reason is that I’m trying not to play it safe. My mentor teacher has an approach that – from a fairly limited, but pragmatic perspective – works and is easy. I could adopt that approach – which is familiar, though probably not widely liked, to the students – with a minimum of effort. But it’s not an approach that fits with my approach and within some constraints, I should probably be using the internship as a place to stretch myself, just a bit.

The first topic we’re covering is longitude and latitude followed by navigation, so the map metaphor fits. So, how to create a class hassle map? A first stab at a process

  • Go in with a large collection of post-its, large bits of paper (for grouping the post-its), and some bluetac.
  • Get the class into groups of 3/4.
  • Explain the idea of a hassle map and the purpose of this activity.
    Mention the idea of NetFlix and the origins of the idea. Talk about the purpose for this class, i.e. for us to figure out what we can do in class to make it work better. Two step process: identify hassles and then talk about possible solutions.
  • Have the groups come up with their hassles and write them on post-its (1 per post-it).
  • Identify the commonalities
    Lead the class in merging the hassles into a common list, no categorisation at this stage.
  • Get the class to vote on the “biggest” hassles
    Interesting to compare the most prevalent with the biggest.
  • Maybe show a hassle map from me or perhaps a group of teachers.
    Idea of making students aware of the other perspective, not necessarily to agree with it.

In later lessons the next steps would be taken. Perhaps look for solutions, maybe start with underlying causes for the hassles as part of coming up with solutions.

Gotta be positive

I’m generally a glass half-empty type of guy. Most of my teaching and research has been based on the the approach of wanting to do something, seeing problems and trying to fix those problems. Consequently I often been accused of being negative. Which is just one reason why I like Selwyn’s (2011) article “In praise of pessimism” which includes the following

Thus, rather than ignoring or even blaming the apparent inefficiencies and failings of current education arrangements, educational technologists should be engaging actively with the negative aspects of education and technology and exploring how best to withstand them.

A suggestion which seems to fit quite well with the idea of a hassle map.

But it’s also an idea that gets up the nose of the Appreciative inquiry crowd and similar.

One thought on “A hassle map for Year 10 mathematics? You can’t focus on the negatives?

  1. As far as I’m concerned, both methods are valid as long as they focus on making meaningful change.

    In later lessons the next steps would be taken. Perhaps look for solutions, maybe start with underlying causes for the hassles as part of coming up with solutions.

    Without this step, it becomes precariously close to being just a whingefest.

    Same with Appreciative Inquiry, if you don’t immediately follow up with any meaningful change, it can all get lost in wishful thinking.

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