A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math. Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.”
And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times.” Why ambient? A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful. Today’s post looks at the polarity of Grade 2.
As the 8 year old moves away from the fairy tale and begins to take first real steps into the world, a powerful dichotomy appears. The strong urge for growing up and being more independent takes the form of a sort of rebellion against authority. And this is juxtaposed with a desire to “do the right thing,” conflicting feelings that need to resolve.
And here is where the strong moral pillar of the saints’ lives can serve to counterbalance the often reprehensible and always rambunctious antics of the fables’ animal characters. Here is a link to Taming the Wolf, an institute for peaceful mediation and reconciliation, and their story of “Saint Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio,” who I’m sure was much like the fellow pictured below.
After telling this wonderful story, you might have the children write and illustrate St. Francis’ “Canticle to the Sun.” Here is an excellent post from the blog, Wadorf Inspired Moms, that features a beautifully rendered version of it.
In contrast, there’s Mr. Reynard Fox, up to his old tricks again, in the fable, “The Fox and the Crow” by Aesop.
A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree.
“That’s for me, as I am a Fox,” said Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree.
“Good day, Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking today: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds.”
The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox.
“That will do,” said he. “That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future: “Do not trust flatterers.”
So here we have the hapless crow, as so many of Mr. Reynard’s “victims” seem to be. But there’s also a certain wily worldliness to his machinations. One that may after all, be a necessary ingredient to growing up. Even though this clever fox is never brought to justice per se, it could be said that his calculated, self-centered deeds keep the community on its collective toes by somehow pointing out each one’s foibles and shortcomings.
And so it goes in Grade 2. I hope you enjoyed our sojourn as much as I did! On to Grade 3 tomorrow, remembering that knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of that knowledge as a worthy goal.