I had an interview today for the Noyce Fellowship for math education at UNL today. I was pretty nervous about it, so hopefully that didn’t end up reflecting poorly on me. Ever since the interview I’ve been second guessing all of my responses to the interviewers and fretting. I keep trying to tell myself that I’ve already gotten into USC, so it doesn’t much matter. Tonight I will email MfA LA to hopefully speed up their decision as to whether they will fund me to go to USC. If I get funding, then I’ll just notify UNL that I’m taking the offer at USC. At this point, it’s all but decided that I’ll be living in LA by June.
The interviewers asked a lot of hard questions. I picked up the sense that the interviewers would worry that I might not be able to reach kids who “aren’t like me” in the sense that I never needed much help in math. I fear that I didn’t communicate clearly enough that I don’t think there is that big of a distinction between me and my peers growing up. There’s an idea in education that some kids don’t need so much help whereas others are slower and less capable. While I think this is a valid observation, I think that there is much less inherent difference between these kids than is usually supposed. I was lucky in that the traditional system of schooling suited my styles of learning and I am naturally a very patient, meticulous person. But, I don’t think I’m much more intelligent than most people have the potential to be. From high school, I remember a girl named Claire (blanking on last name) who happened to be a magnificent writer. She was a grade or two ahead of me, but we were in the same math class. I saw her struggle in Algebra 2, pulling D’s on tests. At first, I wasn’t aware of her magnificent writing talent, so I’m ashamed to admit that I cast her aside in my mind as one of those “slower” kids who just aren’t intellectual. After I found out about her talent with language, I realized that she was an incredibly brilliant individual who, for whatever reason, did not have the frame of mind to understand Algebra. That is when I started to cling to the idea that there are many kinds of intelligences, and so there aren’t “smart” kids and “slow” kids, but rather that some kids just happen to have the right kinds of intelligences suited to the right kinds of subjects (barring certified special needs kids). I told the interviewers that I believe almost everyone is capable to doing important mathematics. What I didn’t say is that it is that this requires a good understanding of what sorts of intelligences various people have and how to appeal to those intelligences to teach mathematics.
I’ll have to continue this thought later.