Using a Risp: What Can Go Wrong...

2. "I love it when my students are investigating for themselves..."

One of our feeder schools once had a maths teacher who taught everything through investigations.
He was popular, the students loved his lessons, but the results at the end of the year were terrible.
Is it not possible for a teacher to become carried away as his class descends into a risp?
Is it not possible for this engrossment to become an end in itself,
overriding all concerns of the syllabus, the examination and the Scheme of Work?
It is intoxicating when your students get caught up in a risp: might this not be a danger sometimes?

The phrase 'teacher lust' has been coined to describe
how a teacher may feel an overwhelming and unhelpful desire to explain everything for and to his students.
Is there not such a thing as 'risp lust',
where a teacher is so keen to allow his students to explore mathematics for themselves
that they never really form a systematic collection of knowledge in their heads?

Yes, I believe that the spirit of investigation should be alive and well in every mathematics classroom.
But the results of that investigation need to be carefully built into lasting structures,
or else our students will do nothing each lesson but make patterns on the sand, that are washed away each night by the tide.

How many rich tasks should a teacher be expected to do in a course?
Probably more than most do now.
Probably fewer than most will likely want to do in the future.

A Handbook on Rich Learning Tasks, 2001,
Gary Flewelling with William Higginson (see Risp Books)