Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Matthew 8:4

Jesus healed the leper and then told him not to tell anybody but to go show himself to the priest, and offer the sacrifice that the law required, "as a testimony to them."

Now, I'm not going to pretend that I know what is supposed to be the testimony (the healing? the sacrifice? the obedience?) nor to whom the testimony is given (the people nearby? the guy's family? the priests?).

But as I pondered those things, it crossed my mind that the priests must have been seeing an awful lot of healings. Yes, the priests had heard what was up with John's preaching. And then Jesus' preaching. And all those people going out to be baptized. But they also had all sorts of people coming to the temple to "show themselves to the priests" that the healings might be verified and the sacrifices might be made.

It almost makes a person suspect that God set up those purification laws in the Old Testament to ensure that the priests in Jesus' day would be faced with evidence after evidence after evidence that some dude was busy doing all those things that the scriptures said the messiah would do.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today's Laugh

Katie posted on her Facebook page
about what Alia (age 2½) was playing:

Today the mommy penguin said to the daddy penguin,
"We're doing the Y O N O"
to which the daddy responded,
"No, I like the S E S E S E S."

I'm thinking we maybe go to the P A R K and the L I B R A R Y too much.

Oh no, oh no. She's catching on to our scheming ways!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Math: Right-Brainers or Left-Brainers

For those of you who have a hard time keeping it straight, left-brained is the orderly, rule-oriented side of the brain, and right-brained is the creative, free-thinking side of the brain.

Conservative people tend to value the school-way to do math. "Do this step. Memorize these facts. Drill these facts like crazy. Follow this step next. No, you can't do it that way! Do it this way instead." When you're dealing with a classroom full of children whose needs must all be met as best as possible, when you have children who annually change from one teacher to the next, it helps to have standardization in the math program.

Some teachers and curriculum-planners have tried to bring reform to that staid, old-fashioned, rule-oriented way to do math. People may have conniption fits over the changes. "It won't work. That's not the way to teach." Both sides have their points. The old way of teaching math leaves most kids without understanding of what's truly going on with their computations. On the other hand, with the newer ways of teaching math, there are problems. There's too much instability as kids change teachers annually. Kids mature at different rates, and teachers become impatient for "results" (that is, good scores on the standardized tests) instead of developing math-brains and math-smarts. Occasionally, teachers will even go so far in wanting kids to "understand the process" that they give equal credence to right and wrong answers. If a teacher doesn't understand math, she's going to have a booger of a time helping kids to understand math. And so, sometimes the best a school can aim for is to give up on math, but to make sure the kids can manipulate their numbers and do their arithmetic.

And, YES, there is a difference between arithmetic and mathematics.

Arithmetic is a tool. Being adept at arithmetic involves not only some understanding of what's going on with the numbers and why they work the way they do, but it also involves memorizing addition tables and multiplication tables and some formulas. Becoming good at arithmetic involves enough practice and drill that processing those numbers becomes simple.

But math? Ahhhh. Math is beautiful. Math is like art. Math is creative. Mathematics explains and explores and delves and marvels.

Amazingly enough, arithmetic is NOT necessary to understanding mathematics. Kids can begin to understand decimals and negative numbers before they've done the grunt-work of learning their addition and multiplication facts. Kids may begin to toy with number theory before they can earn A's and B's on their third-grade math worksheets. Kids know something about fractions before they've learned to count to twenty. Kids can wonder at the concept of infinity before they've learned that 6x5=30.

Good math teachers want their kids to learn (eventually) to do their arithmetic painlessly. Arithmetic is a vital tool for mathematicians. But as Penrose and Marilyn Burns and Sir Cumference will show, mathematics is a treasure over which little hearts can delight ... even prior to having mastered simple arithmetic!

Teaching math is like teaching reading. You can teach a kid his phonics and he may be able to decode words, but the higher priority is to teach him to cherish books and reading. Phonics is merely a tool. Same for math. Teach the left-brained arithmetic (hopefully on a timetable that fits the individual child), but don't let arithmetic sap the child of his wonderment over mathematics.