The books say no. There’s no value, it isn’t fair to the gifted kids… and often gifted kids are impatient with other students or don’t understand why other kids find thing so difficult. (This was not a problem with me, but my sister definitely had a problem with this impatience.) (So did #2.)
#2 is bitter about this topic.
So, #1 is conflicted… well, not really conflicted in that she knows what she thinks, but it is nuanced.
I do think that there is value in teaching other people things. Most teachers say, and I believe, that you really start understanding something once you teach it. I know t-tests incredibly well after teaching them for umpteen years in a way I didn’t before I started teaching methods. So there is value to teaching things, even for the gifted kid. Especially if the kid being taught asks good questions that force deeper thinking. That’s a reason I strongly encourage my (equal level) students to work together in groups and why I had study groups in high school and college math classes. Another reason is the benefits to banging heads against a problem together.
I like teaching. I’m good at it. I did a lot of volunteer tutoring, especially in math, when I was in high school, college, and graduate school. (I even got paid for some in college.) One of my joys in life is destroying math phobia and building confidence, especially in girls who have always thought the problem was them instead of bad teaching or missing background. It’s something I have been doing for decades and would do without being paid for it if I had the time.
(#2 thinks teaching is the WORST part of my job. I would never call it a joy. I do not like it, though I am pretty good at it. It sucks my energy and life-force. In this area, we don’t seem to be as united as we usually are on this blog.) (#1: It’s like mushrooms all over again!)
Being directed by the teacher to “teach” someone who is struggling is not a way to be treated as an equal by your peers. Not if they are never in a million years going to be able to return the favor. Seriously. (#2 adds: It does a great disservice to gifted kids to ignore their education in favor of making them repeat the same concept they already know at a lower level.)
It’s one thing if you’re being taught by someone who has already had a class, as in a TA or tutor position, or by someone you help out when they get stuck, as in a study group. It is not the same when the “teacher’s pet” is constantly acting in the role of teacher-in-training but is still expected to be treated as a fellow classmate. That’s not a way for the sacrificial teacher-in-training to make friends, but it is a way to be resented, and to create resentment in the teacher’s pet as well!
Study groups chosen by students: AWESOME
Volunteer tutoring: AWESOME
Teaching younger students or students taking a class the kid has already finished: Great if older/more experienced kid is fine with it.
Unpaid forced TA labor teaching your peers in your class: Not cool. SO. NOT. COOL.
And don’t get us started on cooperative learning groups… sure, that may be a reason we’re so great at leading discussion classes… but at what price? We hate them.
What do you all think? Yea? Nay? Any memories?
p.s. #1 thanks #2 for not actually killing her with projectile pencils.