It's better to coach a student like Blake Shelton would than to judge them like Simon Cowell.
From time to time, I dig into popular TV shows. Usually, they are opportunities to turn off the brain and relax. I had a different experience recently while watching The Voice. At the time, I was preparing a presentation about MATHia, our intelligent 1:1 math learning software, for a district looking to help students who are below grade level in math.
My presentations on MATHia so far had been pretty technical, focusing on the types of adaptivity that we apply to support students. To tell you the truth, this is pretty boring stuff. It's like talking to someone who wants to buy a car about the mechanics of the car's motor.
As I watched The Voice, I started to think about Blake Shelton. That’s right, the country music star that my wife swoons over. He's one of the coaches on the show. I have to admit, he is pretty cool. Anyway, watching Blake got me thinking, “Why do I like The Voice?” Then I got it. I like The Voice because the coaches are helping the contestant. The singers get better over the course of the show. The coaches have a measurable impact on the contestants they are helping. For that reason, even when contestants leave the show, they talk about the impact and improvements they've seen in their singing.
I thought about other talent shows I've watched, including American Idol with Simon Cowell. American Idol didn't have coaches... it had judges. As a result, singers worked on their own, hoping to impress the judges. When they did poorly, they were not met with support or guidance. They were met with ridicule.
In my opinion, there are a lot of math software solutions out there that are more like Simon Cowell than Blake Shelton. Students are told that they got something wrong. They have to try again. Often times, they don't know why they got it wrong, so there is no guidance on how to adjust their thinking and get it right. Too much judgment and focus on right and wrong answers leaves them questioning their intelligence and capability. If I spend my time with Simon Cowell, I will likely feel dejected and frustrated.
The goal of MATHia is, first and foremost, to get students to learn. It assesses them so it can then focus on giving them the support and guidance they need. If I spend my time with Blake Shelton, I will be a better singer.
Let’s give our students more Blake and less Simon.
Peter is an educator with over 20 years of strategy, education and product development experience. He led the redesign of a university, built new educational programs, designed content and taught middle school. At Carnegie Learning, Peter shapes our organizational and product strategy and ensures that we continue to develop leading-edge products and services that help all students learn.Explore more related to this author