Category Archives: Challenges & Frustrations

Those Who Can, Do; Those Who Can Teach, Teach

Recently, a friend trotted out the old adage, “Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, teach.”  This quote bothers me.  I understand the frustration behind it, but my experience suggests otherwise. +10

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Taking the Power Play Out of Self-Esteem

I’ve posted about student self-esteem several times.  In two posts, Self Esteem from October 2011 and Self-Esteem Starts With Esteem from November 2013, I described students who continually put themselves down, and how I would insist that they say to me, “Mr. Bigler, I’m … Continue reading

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Avoiding Failure by Never Trying

Each year, as students sink farther and farther into the abyss of test-driven curriculum and low-level thinking, I have to work harder and harder to teach them high-level thinking skills.  This year, my students and I seem to be approaching … Continue reading

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The Aftermath of Standardized Test Prep

When potential students ask whether (high school) physics is hard, I tell them, “Imagine a year of algebra word problems, in which you have to understand a situation in order to figure out which equation to apply and how to … Continue reading

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The Ninety-Five Percent Solution

One of my father-in-law’s astute observations of human behavior is that most people do not correctly perceive ratios or probabilities less than 5% or greater than 95%.  A greater-than-95% chance of something occurring becomes irrationally either “It definitely will happen,” … Continue reading

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Poverty and Cognitive Ability

I just read an article with an interesting finding in Science News: “Poverty may tax thinking abilities.”  The research, originally published in Science, claims that financial concerns that arise from living in poverty “damages reasoning abilities about as much as going … Continue reading

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Four Fallacies of Educational Policy

One of the easiest ways to make a parent angry is for people who do not have children of their own to give parenting advice.  Now suppose that those childless people were given the power to make rules that parents … Continue reading

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It’s Not About the Teacher

Yesterday I had prepared one of my favorite physics lessons: a lecture/discussion with demos that explains various aspects of music.  My seniors (3/4 of my students) are heading into their final week of high school, and a class that’s about … Continue reading

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Responding to Student Demands for Good Teaching

For the past week, social media has been buzzing with a 90-second video of Jeff Bliss, a Texas high school sophomore, giving his World History teacher a piece of his mind about the endless packets and worksheets, and what he feels … Continue reading

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Playing “School” in School

When children play “school,” usually one child is the “teacher” and the others are the “students.”  The “lesson” in these games is almost always based on low-level recall of facts or mastery of a one-step skill or process.  The idea … Continue reading

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