December Teacher of the Month: Matthew Parker

The Wonderful Mr. Parker
The Wonderful Mr. Parker

From ascending the grades through East Elementary School and Ankeny High School, social studies teacher Matthew Parker is now teaching at Southeast Polk High School for his 21st year.

“I initially thought I wanted to go into business and maybe finance. I had an interest in the stock market, investing, and I thought that was the path I wanted to go down,” said Parker. He attended Grand View from 1995 to 1997 for business. After taking a couple social studies classes, he realized that was what he was more interested in.

“[I] took some classes that involve history and a couple government classes, couple of western civ. classes, and realized I really enjoyed that material,” said Parker. He transferred to University of Northern Iowa, a college well known to teach teachers, and finished his education in December of 2000.

In college, Parker coached volleyball, his first real chance to try his thumb at teaching.

“I had tried some coaching while I was in college. I was very heavily involved in volleyball,” said Parker. “Coaching and teaching are one in the same. When you coach you’re also a teacher, and when you’re a teacher you’re also a coach.”

After graduating from UNI, Parker taught at Southeast Webster High School in Burnside, Iowa. He was there very shortly before coming to Southeast Polk. He has been teaching AP Psychology since he got here.

“I currently teach AP Psych, and I started at Southeast Polk in 2003 and I’ve been teaching that class ever since I’ve started. So this is my 21st year of teaching AP Psych,” said Parker. “For the past maybe about 10 years, I’ve also taught economics, and I greatly enjoy that class too.”

Throughout his time at Southeast Polk, Parker has started to cement his place in the community, touching the hearts and minds of learning high school students.


Learning Styles:

Parker, after teaching for long enough to see how students can learn, does not believe in “Learning Styles.” He does say that people can have “learning preferences,” but everybody can learn in many different ways so they are not limited to just one method.

“Learning styles is a myth. There is such a thing as learning preferences,” said Parker. “They’ve done experiments where they put learning styles to the test, and experiments have shown that it makes no difference,” said Parker.

Even if someone likes to learn a certain way, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best way for them to learn. Everyone can learn in many different ways, so telling someone that they are a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic (hands-on) learner may not be the best label to put on them.

“If I identify you as a visual learner and I gear all of my teaching towards visuals, it’s gonna make no impact. So I don’t like calling them learning styles, because learning styles implies that that’s the only way you can learn,” said Parker. Telling kids that they can only learn using certain methods can create a fixed mindset and limit their ability to learn.

“So I would rather that be called learning preferences. Like I would prefer to watch a movie, or I’d prefer to use my hands, or I’d prefer to listen. But don’t call them learning styles,” said Parker.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Southeast Polk Publications Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *