Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stuff we are learning about

We were confused that people didn't recognize Princess is a girl when she was a baby. She was dressed in pink, after all! We eventually learned they pierce the ears of baby girls around here, so they just noticed that her ears weren't pierced.

At a presentation on socially constructed gender roles in Nigeria for the freshman seminar I team teach, I learned some more interesting things: girls wear purple, green, and yellow. Boys wear white, black, and red. The teacher said, if you dressed your little girl in white and black, people would ask why you don't love your child.

Now thankfully Princess' wardrobe is not shades of white and black, very heavily pink with some orange and lavender. But that was instructive for picking out next year's wardrobe...

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Prince was playing with his calculator yesterday. He typed in 8-9 and it said 1. He told Joy that 8-9 is 1. She was vexed. I took a look at the offending technology and saw the little word "minus" in six point font in the upper left corner. Joy told me in no uncertain terms the time had come to teach Prince another one of the facts of life.


So I sat down and drew a number line with his input (interrupting his lunch). We added 1 to 0 to get 1 and moved one to the right, 1+1=2 and moved one to the right, 1+2=3 and so on to 10. "Dad, I'm trying to eat lunch."
Then we went backwards 10-1=9 and moved one to the left all the way down to zero.
Then came the kicker. What is 0 minus 1?
"Nothing!" he jubilantly shouted.
So I gave him an example: suppose I owe you 10 pennies. Then we take away one and now I owe you 9 pennies. I walked him down to 0. If we take away one, now you owe me one penny. We call that "negative one."
I drew the line extending to the negative territory and wrote -1. Then I asked him, "What is negative 1 minus 1?"
He correctly guessed "negative 2."

There was nothing for it now. Setting lunch aside, he wrote out the numbers from -10 to 10. He counted down from 10 to -10. He wrote from -10 to 0. He asked me what 9-10 was and I confirmed that his guess was right: -1. He practiced a few more times, then set it aside again to finish his lunch.

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Prince also worked on his grasp of language today as he pretended to be the Backyardigans on the Orient Express.
"If I'm a cowboy, what would you call Princess? A cow-girl?"
Correct! Remember Jessie the yodelin' cowgirl?