Secrets Are Revealed

Yesterday morning, I stopped outside a math classroom. Inside, the teacher was reading parts of a newspaper article to the students about how multi-tasking could “fool them” into thinking they were increasing productivity, but actually reducing their retention and productivity. The students sounded surprised, and asked some good questions.

“What about listening to music while we do homework?” one student asked.

“That’s different– music is more like a background thing, and can be good.”

I hovered in the doorway, and later the math teacher said hello and mentioned she saw me listening in. I noted that I’d been reading a lot of articles on the new multi-tasking studies and was preparing a presentation for MS students.

“Yeah, it’s funny,” the teacher noted. “With my two sons, we didn’t have to talk about chat at all because it wasn’t around. Now with my daughter, we have to talk about how chat can be distracting, the difference between chatting with friends and using Calc Chat, and…”

“What’s Calc Chat?” I interrupted.

Embarrassed, the teacher mentioned that it was an IM group set up for Calc students to chat about calculus as they did their homework. “It’s not as good as being face to face in a study group,” the teacher said. “But it’s better than no study group.”

We both smiled because it was obvious that a small secret had been revealed. As a parent, she was really aware about how her daughter could use chat for good and bad uses, and obviously she helped develop an academic use of it.

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