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Teaching Moby Algebra

September 1, 2012

I just learned that I’ve been teaching Moby pre-algebra.

I’ve been making him take the silverware out of the dishwasher. I thought I was merely teaching him a basic skill necessary for peacefully co-existing in a household. Everyone should contribute as they can, right?

It turns out that “sorting” and “classifying” are actually pre-algebra skills. Our kitchen is a mathematics classroom!

Moby’s day care offers some optional programs, including a Learning Adventures math program. We signed him up. It sounded like something he’d enjoy, and also something that would foster the skills of paying attention and sitting still which are likely to be useful in school and the workplace. We received an introductory letter which states: “Sorting, classifying, and patterning are precursors to learning algebra.”

Enclosed with the letter was a bag of colored plastic mice in three sizes, presumably to be sorted by the child. Moby immediately lined up the purple mice and asked me to make a square with the yellow mice. I asked him to count how many edges the square had and he did so correctly — impressive since he sometimes doesn’t stop counting even after pointing at all the items to be counted. He declined to sort the mice into big, medium, and small; and instead pointed out the daddy mice, kid mice, and baby mice. I hope he hasn’t just completed next week’s lesson.


This post is duplicated on my old blog.

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