Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Learning the Tens

5 dimes, times 10 cents each. My son (7 years old) says 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 while holding up fingers. So he doesn't see how ten times works yet. He's a smart kid, so this is surprising to me.

I have no interest in doing anything about it. I trust he gets enough math thinking in our family to be just fine. I'm just intrigued.


  1. Yet if you just give him several examples of the same nature in a row, he will notice the pattern and probably will say "AHA" and will have a moment of joy. Like he did several times when we played with the ruler.

    One of the "good practices" in my opinion is to amplify math inherent in activities by inviting kids to look at several similar examples at once. Without revealing what it's for - so it's like a delicious puzzle. Giving several examples after you told the point, though, is rather pointless. Wait a minute, that describes 99% math workbooks...

  2. Ahh, Maria, you're our math fairy!

    You can get away with it. I can't. If there's just the right moment, maybe. I'll be sure to post about it if the opportunity to be totally playful with it appears.

  3. Once kids taste that "AHA" moment, and you somehow identify (name) it for them, they often want the experience again. "There is an interesting pattern here - want to see?" is usually what it takes with my daughter. Sometimes she says "No" - because she's tired, usually, and this activity takes a lot of energy.

  4. i still "count on" sometimes
    even though i'm also pretty good
    at adding.

    depends on the context and my mood
    and who knows what. keeping score
    in scrabble? my score so far in a given word
    i'm working on is 14? there's a 3-point tile?
    i'll look under if for "double letter score"
    (let's say it's not there): i'll go 15, 16, 17
    mentally. one less thing to think about
    or something; no need to break out the adder.
    (this instance didn't need a "carry"...
    but then i didn't have to *notice* this...)

    and so i urge caution in concluding
    that in any given instance any subject
    "doesn't see [ ] yet" merely because
    they've *not used it*...
    one might instead have *rejected* it
    (consciously or not)...

    phenomenology is much harder than people think.

  5. Thanks, Owen! Good point. And of course, that leads me to thinking that this isn't and on or off thing. Maybe he's partially got it, and only uses it in some contexts.

    [I don't know what phenomenology means, and it wasn't in I'm wondering where to look to follow that thought...]

  6. i'm first aware of having encountered
    "phenomenology"-- the word--
    in an el-cheapo SF-parody
    from the 70's: _dark_star_.

    but it makes up part of my
    philosophical furniture now
    and i forget just how.

    dennett will have had something
    to do with it, though, so you could
    look here for starters.

    the wikipedia entry for p'ogy itself
    goes far beyond the depth *i*'ve
    read in *any* philosophical field.


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