Our Unschooling Adventure - which officially started in Lowell in the Fall of 2005 - now continues in Berlin.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

More Nighttime Math with Supriya

Supriya wanted to do math last night, and I decided to give her a "word problem" (a term both Manisha and I find amusing; for us math is just another language to express facts from real life, thus all problems are word problems to us!). I asked her, "How old will you be when Gargi turns 21?" Supriya knows Gargi is 12 and she is 6. Supriya disappeared in the cardboard box she was playing in. After a longish time, "25?" I sort of knew she was on the right track & she meant 15. I decided to simplify the problem, "How old will you be when Gargi turns 13?" "7." "15?" "9." So far so good.

Then I made her come out of the box, brought out her "math-notebook" and gave her a pencil. "Now use the paper and pencil and tell me how old you will be when Gargi turns 21." "15!" On the paper were 9 dots. She made the 9 dots counting from 12 to 21, and added them to her own age. All I did was ask the question and let her figure out the process. She is evidently smart enough to figure out all the parts of the process (e.g. that Gargi and she will grow older at the same rate, a completely non-intuitive fact we take for granted!).

I decided to test her further and give her a silly-sounding problem, "How old will you be when Aseem (currently almost 4) turns 79?" She gave me a surprised look and then got to work. "82?" She was obviously on the right track, just miscounting by one. I corrected her and went on to do more problems along similar lines. [Later Manisha corrected me that Aseem is 3 (and not quite 4), and Supriya was indeed right when she said 82. So I went and apologized to her for wrongly correcting her.]

It's great to be able to ask her these problems and see the machinery of her mind work. I can see that her concepts are sound, even when her answers are off by a bit -- this has happened to me when I was little also, so it's not a big deal. The teacher in a typical classroom will never have the luxury of spending this amount of time with each student to find out why they gave the answer they did, right or wrong.


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Blogger CharlesE said...

Dear Manoj and Manisha,

This discovery of Supriya's, that she and Gargi age at the same rate, reminds me of:
Q: What is the speed of time?
A: 1 hour/hour!

Live long and prosper,

8:15 PM


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