Hands Up!

I’ve got to tell you about my Unix class yesterday. I’ve had so many bad experiences in the classroom here and I need to give you this one to make up the balance.

Last week I was asking questions of my students who sat in silence as usual. When I pushed them they came up with good answers but were not generally keen to answer. I teased them saying they were determined not to answer anythying and I explained that they would do better if they were determined to answer — irrespective of whther they knew the answer or not. Yesterday, in a Javascript class, I wrote some example expressions on the board and asked for their values. Something unheard-of happened:

They all raised their hands. 😀
They must have discussed it and everyone raised their hands and gave (correct) answers for the value of the first expression. I started to ask another question; their hands were up immediately, before I had even finished it. I laughed so much. And so did they. I was in on the joke but it was such a generous one we all laughed. And when one lady gave a loud and clear answer I was so happy I did a little Grouch Marx dance at the front of the classroom. #8)

By the end of the class the novelty had worn off, but although they were quiet again, they were still answering. That class was so much better than some I have had here. A little effort goes a long way.

14 Comments

  1. Jan Says:

    :)oh that is a good grinny moment ..xxxx

  2. Dirk Says:

    This comment is completely out of place regarding the topic, but nevertheless: searching for a description of Charlestron Stroll steps (forgot a few, getting old …) I googled along the video you offered for download quite a few blog entries before this one.

    It’s warming my heart and soul!
    It’s so good to see these African girls, some of them barefoot, doing swing dance in a field and having fun!

    Good job!

    As Dawn said: "Gather 40 politicians from different classes and make them do the Shim Sham; we would be much better off."

    I think, this is right for everybody – even more, THEY are much better off – and might go for the Charleston Stroll as well.

    And I would be very happy to dance with all of them girls in a swing dance camp somewhere, sometime.

    (did not find my missing step, though – a lot of improvising in the video … 😉 )

  3. Mark Says:

    Dirk,
    I’m the last person to complain about off topci coments. I love comments as long as they are not advertising on-line casinos or porn sites (or anything else for that matter).
    This is the entry you’re talking about I just re-read it and the comments and Im still giggling. Thanks for making me look back on that bit of my past.

    The dance lessons here at the college have fallen by the wayside. that organised situation that lead to the video has lost its novelty and last term when I brought the stereo out to the field there was only one lady dancing with me and the othes looking on shyly from the edges. I tried to encourage them to join but something was missing and I don’t know what it was. I no longer claim to be able to communicate with them despite the good story of the above blog entry. NEvertheless I migth try again this term and see if any of the new intake want to learn some american jazz dance, choreographed by a Singaporean and taught by a Britt.

    When Unice came to visit she told me she has shown that video to Sing Lim. I never dreamed it would proove so popular. 😉

  4. davidz Says:

    congratulations on the class!

  5. Lydia Says:

    Splendid to read a post where you are relishing teaching! 😀

  6. Drew Says:

    cool 🙂

  7. will Says:

    hey doc. I might visit kenya in oct, hopefully during the same weekend as Jackie. best

  8. Mark Says:

    Yeah, I just came from another class with them. They were the
    same quiet selves but they really **are** trying to answer questions now. Odd that it’s happened now, whether because I have managed to learn enough to communicate better with them (though I fell I am doing the same things) or because Im in the last term and doing this teaching for the sake of the teachers rather than the students and somehow the attitude is different.. like I don’t care so much and so it works. What do you think?

    Great to see some of you still hanging round there now and then, I started to wonder if I was on my own again. This blog has been very supportive to me out here and although Im into the last 5 months now, I still appreciate all the comments and emails I get as a result of the shit I write here 😛

    Will, it’d be cool to see you again.

  9. Lily Says:

    congrats to all students for their
    active participation and also to u
    for ur effort to make students understand.

  10. Louisa Says:

    oh – my — Gawd. Mark – that charleston stroll video is fantastic! How wonderful. And that after I enjoyed your gratifying classroom moment (ovbiously I’m just catching up) I’m not sure what made me think of you just now, but hurrah. Missing you over here.

  11. Mark Says:

    Hey Louisa

    welcome, how’s that un—- job you were doing? :O

  12. Jeannie Says:

    At start we all looked bored with the unix class! no one wanted to answer any question !but later we were all exited of the lesson,but what i can say is congrats to all my classmates for their
    active participation and also to u
    for ur effort to make us as students to understand what you tought us in class en to be better people in the society though it was tough for you but never gave up with our class ………..
    THANKS ALOT TO YOU MR.MARK SKIPPER

  13. Jeannie Says:

    At start we all looked bored with the unix class! no one wanted to answer any question !but later we were all exited of the lesson,but what i can say is congrats to all my classmates for their
    active participation and also to u
    for ur effort to make us as students to understand what you tought us in class en to be better people in the society though it was tough for you but never gave up with our class ………..
    THANKS ALOT TO YOU MR.MARK SKIPPER 😀

  14. Sophia Says:

    You never give up, Mark. That is great.

    Is the class still responding?

    Sophia