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TEDxLjubljana#1

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Thank you for showing up in such a number. I discovered TED Talks about three months ago and when last Wednesday -- they gave me a lot of time -- they appeared in my office, I thought: "This won't work." Then I tried to try and see if I can put together something interesting. If I understood the organisers correctly, I was supposed to talk about education. At TED Talks you can find some very interesting talks on education and I am very happy, that we'll see one of those later. That is one of my favourite talks. It pays off to stay until the end. So I have no other choice but to do something else. I can't simulate Sir Robinson. I decided to tell some personal experience about how it is to be a teacher and a master. You will ... I will explain why master. Often ... Here I see you're mostly students, right? Some of them are mine. I don't know if you ever thought how the teacher experiences the teaching process. What I see from my side. So I would start with how I dress. Previous week my father, after coming from the faculty, asked me: "This is how you go the faculty? To lecture? I dress like this for the fields on the farm." Then I thought, there is no big difference. He has to water the potatoes the whole day, so that it grows, while I have to lecture the whole day, so that you grow. Well, but if I am more serious. The first thing I bump into as the teacher, every year we start every year -- I teach the second year students -- when I come into the classroom, there is this wall in front of me. Then I need to work really hard, I have to work for two months, to have some students appear behind this wall. And I am sure, if I wore a tie to the lectures, it would took four months instead of two, so I am wearing this. This is the first, first experience I ever have. Nobody wants to talk to me. I was lucky enough to go to school abroad. Already in high-school I was attending Devin, where they have this international college. It was great there. We were without the parents and we were 18. It was great. But mostly we were also educated in a very different way. They could afford to have classes with ten students and now, I can tell you that any teacher would want to have classes with ten students instead of thirty or hundred. Then I went on to the United States and that is from where I brought many methods, with which I think, I operate today. So the first thing I bump into, is how very very hard it is to talk to students. For example, students don't want to answer questions. We can try it right away. How much is two plus three? ... (Five) ... So? No, no ... I didn't hear anything. Nobody, who would talk to me. Well, this is the best you can get. In time they soften up, as they see I am not totally normal. This relaxes them a bit. But what I want to say, that as the teacher I have to work really really hard -- at least here -- to have somebody talking to me. I am not blaming anybody for this Probably sometimes in the elementary school kids are thought not to talk to the teacher. But ... this is one thing you need to go trough. Actually the main thing, I want to talk to you about, is that I would like to compare two very different things. On one side, I am a maths teacher, I give lectures at the faculty of mathematics. I took a picture of this today. Whatever it was on the board, I took it. Now, here on the board, what do you see here? Here you can see, it is not very visible, but here you can see the definition of the universal and existential quantifier, but I won't, don't worry, I won't explain this. On the other side, already for some time I am training aikido. I am the one, who will fall on his head here. For some time I am training aikido and I am also teaching it. Here and there as a teacher I experience some thing, which are very different from how we teach things here normally in school. I want to compare this. Here the students are used to the teacher does everything. Actually, in the previous talk we've heard all the things which the teacher does in class. He's lecturing, correcting, grading, but we've heard nothing what the students to. That's how it is. The teacher must do everything. I don't think this is very wise. The students should work more then the teachers. I already know the things I lecture. They should be working. This is normally solved by giving people homeworks. You know this doesn't really work. Specially at the university. I don't know why, but the students don't want to do homework. Homework is repulsive, isn't it? I know ... In aikido things are totally different. In aikido people are doing things for years without even knowing, why they do them. Year after year they are doing them. This. And that. They don't know why. And then ... nobody tells them. And nobody tries to tell them. And it's good that nobody tries to tell them. The system is totally different, Japanese. Aikido carries a lot of philosophy, in particular Zen Buddhism. It's founder was a member of such a sect. So it contains a lot of eastern philosophy and also tradition, so some things are different. For example, there are no competitions. It's like there were no grades at school. If somebody does not want to learn aikido, they don't have to. I wonder how it would be, if aikido was compulsory in schools. Then things would change. And for years you are doing things, you don't understand. And then some day you say: "Aha, this is why I was doing this for eight years." You don't get this in schools a lot. In school, everybody wants to know from the beginning, what something is good for. So, this is the difference. But they both actually have something in common, from my perspective as a teacher. That is I can't be a good teacher if I don't have authority. I think that I, as a teacher, have to have absolute authority in the classroom. No law can limit me. Of course if I beat somebody, well, if I did it in aikido nothing would happen. But if I was going to do it in class then of course I'd have to answer to that. This wouldn't be right. On the other hand I have to have the authority. So there is some discrepancy. The question is how to build the authority. And as far as I can see, the only way to build the teacher's authority is the knowledge. If I can show to the students that I know something and I know how to forward them this knowledge, then this is much better authority than any tie. Or any law, any regulation or threat with lower grade or anything else. So, this is something that I'm trying to say to those who are or who want to be teachers. You can't be successful teachers if you don't have enough knowledge. It's not working this way. This is why I get concerned sometimes. When I look at the grades my students get, there are students on pedagogical direction and students on research direction. and the curve is like this. Like this. There are two slopes. This is called bimodal curve. And those who are on pedagogical direction...What do you think, which slope is theirs? The lower or the upper? They are almost always in the lower. Of course there are some bright exceptions but the statistics says they're in the lower. This is weird. This is the same as crop of potatoes, that one that my father produces, being collected from the earth and being sellected and we'd eat all the thick potatoes and leave the small ones for the seed every year. It's the same philosophy. I don't know if this is smart. I think it's not. I think I even remember one episode of Planet of the apes when that alien, when he fell onto the Planet of the apes he tried to tell the apes that you can't do that. And they didn't listen to him. Yes, well, since I'm a teacher I can't get out of my skin so I have to teach you something. I can't just talk what teaching is like. I think I can try to teach you two things: something from aikido and something from mathematics. Let's start with aikido, you can see here what is going to happen. Do we have any volunteer? (restlesness) We have a volunteer. I've had prepared two scenarios. One in case there is no volunteer and one in case there is. Hi! (Nice to meet you. Matjaž.) Matjaž. Matjaž, you're going, you're going to be a kind of a brute now who comes in and starts bullying here that you want a wallet. OK? But, first, if you can just go out. We'll call you when we need you, yes. Just wait outside. OK. So, as I had said, aikido has one really funny philosophy in a way our people are not used to it. The first one is that you avoid the conflict if you can. OK, let's continue with the next chapter. So... I'd like to show you something from mathematics. (applause) The only question is if we want to have mercy or not. But I'm afraid that when he comes in he'll be annoying. You are recording, right? He can see later what we were talking about. OK. I bought this today in Merkur and it cost less than 40 cents. So, I'd like to show you one thing. Why? So you can see that if you know how to think right about things and tell them to somebody then people will understand, even if they really don't have the appropriate knowledge. What I'm trying to explain here is something from four-dimensional topology. This is a generalization of geometry. And I'm going to start like this: Have you ever asked yourself, how, for example you wake up in the bed one morning and you ask yourself: "U, what kind of dimension is the place where I'm living?" We all know that it's three-dimensional. But why is it three-dimensional? Let's say, I'm just looking around; but how do I know it's three-dimensional? Topologists deal with these kind of things. They like to think about these things. Mathematicians think a lot about a lot of strange things. Well, let me tell you what they have figured out. Do you see this wall here? Do you see this isolation? That is made out of these rectangles. How many rectangles connect together? Three, right? You have a point where there are three connected together. Do you see? Here. Yes? OK? Look at the ceiling. They are put in different way but still there are four that connect together, right? Yes? Now, if we made a very strange form we could connect five, like this, some triangles. But can you go through also with less than three? Can you, for example, build a house with only two bricks always sticking together or are there some points where there are three bricks connected? (answering from the audiance) The bricks are final. Somewhere is the end of them. They are not like this around the universe. Or a parquet. There are also points where there are three parts together. Why? Because you live in three-dimensional world. This is the answer. You look. So, if in the morning you want to check what the dimension of the place where you're living is, you look on the wall and you see something put together or a parquet, you have something at home, you look and you say: "Aha, it's dimension three again today!" Well, a person then asks himself: "But why do we live in three-dimensional place? Why not for example in two or four or five or six?" And the answer, as it seems, is really simple. The answer is that we live in three-dimensional world, so we can tie a knot on shoelaces. Have you ever thought about this? I'm warning you: what I'm explaining right now is very serious topology. Topologists study something that is called knots. These, for example, are knots. What is the difference between these two things? (answering from the audience) Have you noticed how people started answering? There were more people answering what the difference between these two knots is than how much is two plus three. This is a knot, right? This one is not a knot, right? Because we can untie it right? Yes? OK? Every knot can be untied in four dimensions. That means that if you tie your shoelaces they will -- you can't tie them. They are untied all the time. Ha, but how can you see this? We can imagine knots in three dimensions because, well, because brain works like this, it can imagine three dimensions because it's useful. But, how can you imagine a knot in four dimensions? Well, somehow you have to imagine fourth dimension. Let's say, if you watch TV Slovenija -- -- if you watch POP TV, you'll never hear this -- but if you watch TV Slovenija, then you might hear the fourth dimension is time. There is a problem with time that we're used to it going forward all the time. This is the same as someone told you that the second dimension was height but you'd walk only uphill your whole life. Then it would be very difficult to imagine what was going down like. This is why we can present colours in some other way --now you got me-- fourth dimension. We can present it with colours. You can imagine that the colour represents that fourth dimension. So if there are two points in different colours in the knot it means they are really in different point in the fourth dimension. Which means that if knot crosses itself, in the moment, when it crosses itself, if points are in the same colour, then it really does cross itself. But if those two points, where the knot crosses itself, are in different colours then it doesn't cross itself for real, then this only means that we see on the picture like there is a crossing but it doesn't cross in the fourth dimension. Can we now colour the knot so we can untie it later? It's wrong how I coloured it. Because, you see, here, the blue colour repeats twice. The green colour also twice. But if I went around the knot so that each point on the knot was in one exact colour of the rainbow, then anyhow I'd deal with it, there would be no crossing in the fourth dimension and I'd just open it and get a circle. In the fourth dimension, in four dimensions there are no knots. Now...For the end, I really need two volunteers now. ... Come here. Topologists also, topologists like to deal with all the things you can't do. For example... We are going to see now also how a student at first fails and then with a lot of practice might learn. OK? Without dropping the rope. And not those things from kindergarden when you start like this but when you start like this, without dropping the rope, we tie this. Can you do it? Let's say, I don't know, you go like this bellow. Yes, have you dropped it? Well, show me again. Yes, well, how? You hold it like this, you hold it like this... The important part, the important part of my task is that he understands what I want from him. OK, yes. Hold like this, you mustn't drop it. Well, what does your brain tell you? Can you do it? No, at the end it has to be like this, nice. Look, like this. Here, you can try something and a litlle like this. That's right, something like this. (laughter) Maybe I have special rope. Well, let me teach you. Slowly. I'm using this to tease my colleagues - topologists. I come to them, I do like this, zak zak, and they stare. They even have theorems stating you can't do this. You only think you can't do this - they know it. Like this, that's right, like this. You two again. You put it like this and you put it over here and you put it through that loop closer to you, in, in and over the other one out. And here out, look, out, that's right. Like this, like this. And now, then you just shake it down and you have a knot. ... You see? You have to motivate the student so that later, when it's over, that later when it's over, he goes home and thinks about what you had just told him. Let's do it again. Like this, that's right, here in through this one closer to you and out, that's right, there yes, and out through the other one, like this. Yes. Yes. That's right. Give your hand out now. And now just shake it. (laughter) That's it, yes. Well, you'll have to practice more at home. I'm giving you these two ropes. Thank you. Thank you very much. (applause) (applause) A a a. (laughter) Why didn't you come in? Yes. Well, it's over now.

Video Details

Duration: 19 minutes and 58 seconds
Country: Slovenia
Language: Slovenian
Producer: TEDxLjubljana
Director: TEDxLjubljana
Views: 164
Posted by: tedxvideo on Jul 6, 2009

dr. Andrej Bauer

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