Saturday, January 30, 2016

#ECET2: Research and Development and Intuition?

The work we are doing at #ecet2 is led by wonderful data and powerful research. This reminds me that it is critical that the work we do in schools is led by quality, timely research and development too. Boaler's book, Mathematical Mindsets, also reminds us of the value of intuition when she speaks of the work and research of Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity, research professor at Stanford University, and inventor of self-driving cars (and so much more). In her book, she notes that Thrun talked about "the important role played by intuition in mathematics learning and problem solving, and of making sense of situations."

Too often in schools, a teacher's intuition and voice are dismissed by an interpretation of data by someone who is distant from the classroom or context of the teaching situation. This dismissal leads to frustration on behalf of the teacher and potentially less effort or positive impact with regard to students. While it's important that we stay attuned to the research and use the data in powerful ways, it is similarly important to regard an educator's intuition too because that educator knows his/her context, students, and craft.

Boaler goes on in her book to discuss how Thrun used intuition to solve a problem with robot design and then notes "Sebastian describes the process of working out a mathematical solution that made sense to him intuitively, then going back and proving it using mathematical methods." Further, Boaler states that he advises children to "never work with formulae or methods unless they make sense and to "just stop" if the methods don't make sense."

Hence, as I think of the ways that wonderful data and research are supporting what so many educators have been advocating for and know to be true with regard to "celebrating and elevating" the profession, I am cognizant of the important interplay between intuition and research and development that happens in every school setting, and perhaps in every professional setting. As we step forward making decisions about our students' learning, we need to access and apply research and data, work with intuition, and collaborate so that the end result of our work is the best that we can do.