Yesterday my second grader showed me a crazy way of thinking about a bunch of numbers (to figure out how many candles get used on a menorah over Hanukkah). I let him go through the whole thing and said it was neat, but it really struck me as bizarre. Why would you want to do it that way, I thought?
He had to draw it out on paper to explain it to me, and his drawing was just like Friedrich’s 50 pairs of 101 illustration. I suspect that his teacher had either heard this story before or seen it here and taught it to the kids. Obviously it made a great impression on him.
The kicker is that he explained it all to me in the car, with no paper needed, and got the right answer. It was simple to him, but it took forever when he had to work it out on paper in order to show it to me. In the car I was listening to him, but unconsciously looking for an algorithm that matched what he was saying, and I didn’t have one, so I had a hard time following him.
Anyway, that’s a long way of saying thanks! For the first time I have a strong sense of why the school is teaching things so differently from how I learned it — and it makes me feel like it will be to his benefit to learn it this way.