Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Prince C-Nut Meets X

My 4.69 year old son asks me math questions all the time. For example, "Dad, what's 90 plus 73?" or "What's 700 minus 2000?".

I answer as fast as I can; and he can't stump me, yet, unless he ventures into the *jillions*.

Yesterday I was half asleep on the floor, my prime resting place, when he badgered me, "Dad, 19 plus what number equals 70?".

Now he's fluent in addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, negative numbers, and we just started fractions....so I guess it was time to start manipulating equations. I introduced him to X - the unknown variable; how to solve for it; and how to check his answer.

Click the pics to enlarge.

I believe the ancient Greeks were fanatical about keeping mathematics a purely theoretical arena. They thought little of applying it, practically, to the outside world. Their stance was that math was simply a way to hone one's thinking.

On that last point I couldn't agree more. BUT, I believe a teacher just has to keep subjects relevant or the kids can lose interest - as I tragically did with english, science, history, and the arts growing up. So now I'm going to have to drum up some real world word problems for Prince C-Nut....

Note that while my son may be doing algebra today, it was only one year ago that we started our *work*. Last August was when he began writing the alphabet with Kumon books. How many years does it take for factory schools to get to solving equations? Six? Seven? Or Eight?

It really pisses me off when people say he's a prodigy. Yeah, that's a slight against his parents - but more so because it's a lousy justification for one's own parental negligence.

Kids are awake for 14 hours per day. The idea that they can't spend a mere hour or two sitting down with pencil and paper doesn't fly.

My son pushes back all the time. I simply withhold dessert, the park, swimming, his Knex legos, etc.

I drill into his head that *everyone has WORK to do....everyday*. I can't tell you how many times I've reiterated to him, "Nana's at WORK....Mom's WORKING....I have WORK to do". I even refer to his younger sister doing her *puzzle WORK*. This way it can't possibly ever seem weird for him to be doing some work, every single day.

And on those rare days where my son doesn't do anything cerebral.....his behavior is uncharacteristically off-the-wall. But that's a subject for another post.


Anonymous said...

How is princess C-nut doing with her work?

CaptiousNut said...

We've decided to neglect her....and limit her education to whatever the government can provide in *public schools*.

Just kidding!

She can now recognize 90% of the letters; and can offer up words that start with an identified letter. 3.16 year old Princess C-Nut can count a bit - up to 10 in English and Japanese (because of her brother's karate instruction).

And she's tracing uppercase letters here and there.

About now it's time for me to put her on my lap and have her type out the alphabet on MSWord as I had her brother do at this stage.

Up to now she hasn't been pushed one bit and is likely near the same literacy and numeracy levels as some of her peers. But there'll be no parity a year from now.

OSR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OSR said...

When people say that he's a prodigy, it's a matter of perspective. You've seen his daily progress a year, so it's not astonishing to you. I, on the other hand, am sitting here thinking, "How in the hell do you go from 'this is a number' to basic algebra in only a year?" I have no doubt that your tutoring is infinitely more effective than what goes in the dunce factories, but I also suspect that you've got a ringer there.

CaptiousNut said...

Putting my ego aside for a moment....

I must say that I am the best teacher I've ever seen. Seriously. When someone's stumped, I can get to the root cause almost instanteously, and I generally know just what to say and do to clear up the misunderstanding - with mathematical subjects anyway.

If anyone could get $150 per hour tutoring the wealthy's brats it'd be me.

Having said that, everything I've done with my son has been catalogued on this here blog: $6.95 Kumon books, writing out multiplication tables, counting change, continual *quizzes* about things like how far over the speed limit am I driving, etc.

What among that is unavailable to most other children?

My kid may have the luxury of a great teacher....but other kids may have more drive, a better attention span, etc.

Education has never been a contest; it's about personal liberation.

[Note that my son knew his numbers before he was 3.69 years old last year. It was only then that he started writing them.]