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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fairness vs. Kindness

We had an interesting conversation over the breakfast table this morning.

Is fairness important?

My husband was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about a group of men who stole hundreds of millions of dollars, yet are being fined only a tiny portion of that amount, despite being found guilty. Without question, this is not fair to the poor misled investors who lost their assets.
But, how does that play out in our house?
At first glance it seems as if everyone should treat one another fairly ~ Equal portions of cake, equal time at the computer, everyone getting their fair share. Fairness should result in happiness for everyone, right?

Reality doesn't work that way. Not everyone should have cake. A 5 month old doesn't need it and Momma' may not even want it, so should it really be divided in a strictly "fair" way?

Or what about this example? We won tickets a while ago to a big BIG game, but had no interest in the sport, so we gave them away. It wasn't "fair," but it was kind, and we were happier to see the recipients enjoyment much more than we would have been to watch a game in which we have little interest.
We decided that kindness is more important than fairness.
If each person is intent upon treating others kindly, then fairness no longer matters. The baby will receive what she needs, despite being unable to fight for her "fair" share, and the person with the desire to see a game may be provided for, even if they do not have tickets.

Consider Matthew 6:25
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. ... Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Fairness is being concerned about self - full of worry that things won't equal out in the end; worried that we won't be able to take care of ourselves in the future.

Kindness is being concerned about others - intentionally taking care of the needs that are around you, and allowing God to take care of us in his own timing.

Compelling thoughts for 7AM

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics

Phew!!! I made it.

This is absolutely not my style of reading, but I promised myself that I would read it, and I did it. Hooray for me!

Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics was originally written as a graduate paper by Liping Ma, and it reads as such, Dry. Dry. Dry. But - it is revealing, and worth wallowing through.

My kids are just beginning their journey into the world of math, so I'll focus there, although the book discusses much more.

Undertaking the task of teaching young children sounds easy: 1 + 1, great, got it! ABC, okay, what's next? Oh, how very wrong that thought is. Simple concepts are the building blocks for bigger, more complex concepts. The sturdiness of the foundation is absolutely key to a great education.

As a kid, I was a good student, but honestly, never developed a great understanding of math. Sure, I passed algebra, calculus, and trigonometry, but I never knew why the procedures worked. I simply memorized formulas, plugged in the right numbers and spit out an answer. Now, years down the road, I neither remember the formulas, nor the purpose that they were designed to perform. I want something better for my own kids. Enter Ma's book.

In essence, the author urges teachers to develop a profound understanding of fundamental mathematics, not just knowing the surface of the procedures that they teach, but deeply understanding the theory behind mathematical actions. "It is not enough to know how, one must also know why."

What I took away from this book was a greater dedication to speak the truth to my children in regards to math. Statements such as "We can't subtract a bigger number from a smaller one" or "Just borrow a one from the next column," slip easily off my tongue, and I need to break these habits. It is easier to teach the truth once, and to teach it well. In the best case scenario, each lesson will reinforce my kids' previous learning, rather than causing them to have to start over with a new concept.

The reasons behind facts are more powerful than individual procedures. Period. My goal is to intentionally make these connections tangible and obvious for my kids, so that they can fully understand how all of their math lessons are related and how/why they work in real life.

So, despite its difficult writing style, my copy of Knowing and Understanding Elementary Mathematics has been underlined, highlighted, and written all over. It is full of excellent information, and is sure to be re-read.
Submitted to 52 books.
My next "12 Challenging Books" goal is to read Gone with the Wind. After my tedious but rewarding slog through Ma's work, I need something much more readable. This one will be challenging simply because of its length. 1048 pages of drama. I think this is going to be a fun month.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Flying Books

If you haven't yet seen The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, then you are in for a treat. This adorable short is similar to Up stylistically, and the score puts Pop Goes the Weasel in an entirely new genre ... you just have to see it for yourself.

Run time is about 15 min. so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy
Hmm... The old link isn't working anymore. Try this one instead:

My kids all grabbed their journals immediately after watching this show and spent the next 30 minutes happily scribbling away. They even broke out the fountain pens so that they could write just like the character in the book.


Friday, February 3, 2012

The view from my window

8 kids in the house
1 brief moment of silence
Thank you repair man!!!