Dear Miru,

Your calculating is improving and you actually like it. We play with numbers together. Two times ten is twenty. Six plus five is eleven. Ten minus 2 equals eight. It is all very playful. You learn how to figure out calculations by making drawings of dots, lines, squares on the whiteboard. You don’t just learn what the outcome of a calculation is, you learn how to prove it with confidence.

Don’t worry, we won’t plough through Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica in its entirety. The most fundamental proof that one and one equals two is indeed rather complicated and requires many of its pages. For the sake of the not very rigorous math education I will give you, we are just going to assume it.

But I won’t let you off the hook all the time! When we get to square numbers and, for example, you observe a pattern when you make a series of the difference between to adjacent squares, (1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64) => (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15) it will not be enough. We will prove why the pattern is there. I will teach you about prime numbers and some of the wonderful maths that involve them, something I learned much too late in the development of my numeracy because I was subjected to a primitive form of rote-learning that lacked inspiration or creativity, the kind of learning that destroyed so many children’s appetite for numbers and mathematics.

I am already very proud when you can teach me that six plus six equals twelve and you can also draw a 3 by 4 square to make twelve.

Math was originally published on Meandering home


Be Farecul When You Ross The Croad

You learn very fast now. Lately, we have been playing “lettertjes omdraaien”, exchange letters in words. Even though you don’t really get the concept of spelling yet and how several letters make up a word (it is interesting that this mental apparatus is apparently rather complicated; letters are an abstraction, the unit of our language are words insofar as they are the shortest sentences), you understand the fun of jumbling the letters of words.

How I enjoy your laugh when you say “hey! you confused the letters!” Do you want to raw a drabbit? Do you pake a ticture? Do you want to vlay the piolin? What is a Pomcuter? A Sinodaur? Shall I bring you to Dinkergarten? Be Farecul when you ross the croad!

It is a misunderstanding that it would “confuse them”, just like it is a misunderstanding that toddlers wouldn’t be able to handle several languages well. They can, if they grow up in an environment where they are fully immersed in both languages simultaneously. It won’t confuse them, because the correct speech is constantly reinforced. Similarly, my letter jumbling game will only remind them of the correct word and reinforce that. Of course, I always make it explicit that we are joking.

Be Farecul When You Ross The Croad was originally published on Meandering home

Learning: Definition game

Dear Miru,

I taught you definitions and how to describe something without using the word for it. It is a game now, but later you’ll understand why that is useful. You are good at it. I asked you to describe an ice-cream and you said a thing that children eat by licking and that is very cold. I asked you what a house is and you said a square with windows (because that is how you draw it). I showed you round houses and houses in all sort of shapes (you like shapes), including the shape of a violin. I asked what all these houses had in common and we figured out walls and roof. Without a roof, the house is broken, but maybe we can have a house with only a roof? So, we arrive at a building with a roof where people live.

Definitions should be introduced in such a way as a game where we make them up ourselves and test them together. Never, ever rote-learned. That is a crime against creativity, an abhorring and soul-crushing practice that intoxicates the very lifeblood of an independent mind and nibs prodigy in the bud.

A rant is a very angry talk on something we deeply care about.

Learning: Definition game was originally published on Meandering home

Learning fun: Odd one out

Dear Miru,

Everyday you are a little bit smarter. I try to catch up with you and come up with a suitable game. Today, I play ‘The odd one out’ with you. I mention four items and you tell me which one doesn’t belong in the list and why. You are good at it! We discovered that sometimes, there are multiple reasonings possible and there is no one correct answer. This is to show you that the ability to reason itself is more important than the answer, an important reminder when educational tests are reduced to multiple choice questions for the sake of efficiency. We begin with easy ones, like three colors and a chair, or any funny object that makes you laugh. Then we proceed to more ambiguous (remind me to teach you that word) series, such as

  1. eyes
  2. nose
  3. buttocks
  4. mouth

Buttocks, you say, and not only because you like to say that word. Because they are not on your face. This is indeed the predicament of most people, however according to some there are exceptions, usually involving people with a different political persuasion than their own.

What if I say the eyes are the odd one out, because they’re all made of skin and the eyes are not? I see you thinking (it is wonderful, can you believe me, to see your four year old child thinking!) about the reason. Which reason is more valid? How do you determine the oddest one out? Or can oddities not be compared to each other?

Learning fun: Odd one out was originally published on Meandering home

Looking for a web designer

If you have an ‘Eye’ for the design of Internet websites and have some clear and distinct ideas about how you would redesign the very website you are looking at right now, I’d like to hear from you.

I have designed this by myself, so naturally I cannot look at it with the eyes of another. I’d like to know what my readers see when they glance at these pages, and how it can be improved. For example:

  1. using a different font (I think the current one is pretty slick)
  2. attracting attention with a big photograph (I have no idea what kind of photo would ‘tell my story’)
  3. restructuring content and making it more easily searchable (I think it’s easy as it is)
  4. putting my portrait, or a contact button, or a ‘recent news’ story (I don’t know what people expect…)

So you see, with my own pair of eyes I can hardly proceed…

I could pay you a modest amount, or we could work something out in terms of collaboration (I could do something in return).

It’s a simple, low key request, all comments are welcome. Also, this design is and will be open source so everybody is free to use it.

Looking for a web designer was originally published on Meandering home