Thursday, January 19, 2006

messing about with pineapple















christmas lights at the locks, Fenelon Falls. Can just make out santa and his reindeer?
















my favorite is the green dragon--not the best picture of it.

I heard a snippet of interesting information on the radio the other day. I think it was on a late night public radio station and it had to do with teaching math. As I consider myself math-handicapped--even though I would bristle if I were to be told today that I can't handle it, as I was told when I was in school!--I wished that math were taught in a more interesting way.

A game was discussed that reminded me of one of the gambling games I played with Son when I visited him. The learning game involved 5 cards in a hand and using them to come up with 21, a game that I pretty sure even granddaughter at age 4 would catch on to pretty quickly. As it is, I wouldn't even try to comprehend the computational processes she already is capable of in playing such things as "barbie monopoly" etc. Are we underestimating what kids can do? And why, oh why, is school so often so boring? I don't care how many colourful books and other media you give kids, it's boring when you spoonfeed them and expect them to regurgitate it back. Isnt' that the way you were taught? No? Well! Then you must have been more lucky than I was.

I'm sure kids are naturally as curious as I was. I remember the physical feeling of waiting, waiting, waiting, sitting on my hands as the teacher, painfully, step-by-slow-step, explained and wrote out on the blackboard to process: how to form the letters, how to do long division, how to parse a sentence...My hands have never felt quite healthy since. I also remember waving them about in the air, eager to guess or try things out for myself...occasionally being allowed to try and the condescending attitude when I was wrong. No opportunity to experiment or find out for myself or explore ideas hands on. Nope, just : that is not the right answer.

And I did fairly well in school. I often liked the structure and the routine and the rules and regulations a lot. For a while, parts of me thrived in the order of it. Things have really fallen apart since then. Maybe I realized I would have liked to mess about a bit more, blow up a few chemistry labs, make more mud fly off the pottery wheel, noodled about in the real world of bugs and plants and stuff more. I sort of came of age at the end of the hippie era and realized that some very avant garde schools had come out of that era and I had not had the opportunity to attend them.

I laughed today at myself, because as I described to our cleaning lady the videos I've been watching lately ( I got episodes 3,4 & 5 of Mapp & Lucia from the library), and mentioned that I would have loved to wear the wardrobe of Mrs. Lucas myself, I could just picture my poor father if I had been young in the '20s: he would have been appalled at women who cut their hair and shortened their skirts etc as they did in the era of the flappers. Motor cars and skimpy bathing costumes and women doing calisthenics? Of the devil! Yes, indeed.

So, as I cut my pineapple for breakfast, I remembered the math thing. Fibonacci series. And to illustrate it, among lots of things that come up when googled, I found this. ok, it's not a rocket into space or anything but it amused me.

World Mysteries site science section contains interesting discussions and illustrations of the Fibonacci series and plants, the human face, the human hand, etc.

2 Comments:

Anonymous joared said...

Appreciated your comments re the value of trial and error exploration in learning.

Too bad the thrust of so much education on "testing" for supposed "accountability" does little for our youth.

Thanks for the link to World Mysteries and the Fibonacci Series. Recall vaguely hearing some of this info, but am delighted to find a direct link as didn't know the term. Have bookmarked it for ready access for gradual exploration.

3:09 AM  
Blogger Kati said...

maybe part of our "testing" mentality is a result of the invention of the printing press and our print focused style of delivering education.
Too bad for you if you are an action/experiential sort of learner or prefer to sort things out intuitively with the right side of your brain...

11:33 PM  

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