How will you make the world a better place? #yourEDUstory 2

This prompt really threw me.  I didn’t want to say something that didn’t ring my own bell.  I used to have a philosophy toward lighting a fire within students, especially for the battered world of math.  I wanted to have students of all ages look at math and say something else besides, “Yeah, that’s really not my thing.”

I needed something more specific than this.  It’s hard for me to define my own place in making the world a better place so I had a conversation with my wife.

“What is it that I do.  I know I can rock the classroom.  I know I can help other teachers.  I feel comfortable with tech and current trends… but so does everyone else I associate with in the #MTBoS.”

“You see things differently than others.  People don’t think like you do.  You think in pictures.  You see connections others wouldn’t naturally see”

This got me thinking…in pictures.
First I saw something like this:


credit: Jose Carlos Babo via Flickr

I feel like people often find themselves on one side or the other of this bridge.  I’m one of those weird ones that hangs out all over the place.  I started putting myself into different places within the picture, with wide and narrow fields of view.

Near Siders

Near Side

The near sided people see a clear local area, but can’t always see another perspective that’s further away.  As long as the far side is ignored, we might as well call it a clear, sunny day.  This is almost like a naive clarity.

Far Siders


The far sided people are deep in the fog, and have an even more limited view of things, let alone anything off in the distance.  The whole world seems foggy for all they know.  Foggy visions may actually be the comfort, with too much clarity causing more of an overwhelming experience.

 Every Siders


Structures Revealed

My wife alluded to how I see things from multiple angles, and I’m often looking for the connecting structures between different sides.  I attribute most of this skill to growing up in a family with unique personalities, each with a separate style of communication.

When I look at this bridge I don’t usually see the fog, but more often I project what’s beneath the layers of fog.  When I think about the world and all its different people, with all the different perspectives, I have to remind myself to keep looking for such underlying structure.

What does this look like?

In the classroom this could be one student not seeing how another understood a concept differently (or how another student doesn’t understand something that seems so clear to them).  This was my strength in the classroom; making connections between the students toward perspective(s) that we could share.  In leading small group PLCs within the department I helped multiple voices find their place while still maintaining a common vision that puts the students first.

Now what?

Now that I’m working with teachers across the district as a TOSA, and interacting with more and more people online through blogs and twitter, these connections are growing like fractals.

Tree Fractal Connections

Tree Fractal Connections

This idea of making connections for a wider interconnected view has been my vision for for visual understandings in math.  Now I want to add that as a part of the vision for this site too.

As I interact with more people and more perspectives, I want to think about making connections.  I want to help everyone see the interconnected structures through the fog.

Cue the cliche/abstract conclusion:

A better world is one where we can appreciate one another’s perspectives, find common structures, and learn more in the process of connections.  I want to make that happen.

About Mr-Butler

Math Geek Volleyballer Crochet Crazy

Posted on February 17, 2015, in yourEDUstory and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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