This session started in arguments about the actual surface area of a cone but ended in a beautiful poster on volume and surface area of 3D materials. It was the session that questioned my reason of standing in front of teachers and telling them about LTP. However, it was also the session where I re-strengthened my support of LTP in government school classrooms and especially in subjects like Physics and Math.
The previous day I had already been interrogated by the teachers and all my ideas had been shot down. “How do you get the students to give right answer?”One teacher had asked me while we did the reading photographs activity (where students list concrete details in images and then use their imaginations to interpret the pictures). Then I had tried to explain how there is nothing wrong in what a student says while reading a photograph. However, the teacher didn’t understand my answer; for them the point of teaching was to give a student the right answer and nothing else. I understood where they were coming from, they were physics and mathematics teachers where there is usually one theory or one correct answer for a problem. Also, growing up in a similar education system, I knew why these teachers would want their students to know only the right answers but nothing else. After that one question, all the other teachers started asking more and more difficult questions: “How is this (reading photographs) useful for our subjects (physics and math)?”, “how can we do this with a class of 120 students?”, “there isn’t even space for us to move our hands in classrooms, how can we take pictures?”, “There are such short periods, how can we do all of this?” and the most challenging question “we already use visual aids like drawings in mathematics and physics, why do we need this?” The questions meant that the teachers were definitely thinking and reviewing LTP. However, my inability to answer their questions well did not make this session a very practical one for them.
After thinking about the questions that night, I walked in; unsure if I was ready to face these teachers. However, when I started talking to the teachers I realized that they had done their own thinking too. They had come up with many ideas in which they could use LTP. As a group we had decided on volume and surface area as a topic. After that started the excruciating process of planning how to use LTP in teaching volume to a class of 120 students in 80 minutes. At first it was difficult trying to get them to digest the idea that pictures should be taken by the students and not themselves to just show the students. Then was trying to get them to understand that they need to trust students with cameras; and that children are usually more careful than teachers when they handle the camera. It was at that point that the more I talked to the teachers about the more I believed in the power of photographs, pictures and students doing things themselves to learn; the more I started believing LTP’s power in subjects like Physics and Mathematics and specially in Newton’s laws, Projectile motion, Light, trigonometry, geometry, etc. I tried to explain it to them but they didn’t understand how LTP could be used in these topics. They kept saying “we understand how good this program is but we just can’t do it with our children!” However when they executed the LTP activity themselves and they saw how they had used LTP in making the poster about volume, they started realizing how they could use visual aid (specially LTP) more in their classrooms for their own subjects.
By the end of the two days I was left with a lot of questions I’m still trying to find answers to; but I was left with a passion to develop LTP in secondary government schools especially in difficult subjects like Math and Science.