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. Time to take a break from math to focus briefly on language arts. Both Waldorf and Math By Hand methods are intensely cross-curricular. Math and language arts live side-by-side, supporting each other and the child with a well-balanced and effective approach.
Waldorf and Math By Hand Grade 2 language arts content reflects the developmental stage of the 8 year old. Here is an excerpt from the Math By Hand Grade 2 binder:
The Grade 2 “mood” is one of contrasts. There’s a settling in to the new world of challenges and learning begun in Grade 1, accompanied by a certain restlessness. As boundaries are tested, there’s a desire to take on more, which can be expressed as a somewhat overly confident rambunctiousness. This quality is reflected in the Aesop’s Fables’ brashly bold animal characters, as they repeatedly test any and all boundaries. The fables’ moral lessons are juxtaposed against the legends that feature the lives and deeds of saints and heroes.
And here are two stories. The first features Reynard, the sly and cunning fox from medieval France, and the second features Saint Francis, the monk who gave up a life of riches to give of himself. This little story is taken from the Math By Hand Grade 2 Daily Lesson Plans book, and relates the quality of selfless giving to the process of subtraction. (In Waldorf, the 4 processes are matched with the four temperaments.)
Reynard and Bruin
You must know that once upon a time Reynard the Fox and Bruin the Bear went into partnership and kept house together. Would you like to know the reason? Well, Reynard knew that Bruin had a beehive full of honeycomb, and that was what he wanted. But Bruin kept so close a guard upon his honey that Master Reynard didn’t know how to get away from him and get hold of the honey. So one day he said to Bruin, “Pardner, I have to go and be gossip — that means godfather, you know — to one of my old friends.” “Why, certainly,” said Bruin. So off Reynard goes into the woods, and after a time he crept back and uncovered the beehive and had such a feast of honey. Then he went back to Bruin, who asked him what name had been given to the child. Reynard had forgotten all about the christening and could only say, “Just-Begun.” “What a funny name,” said Master Bruin. A little while after, Reynard thought he would like another feast of honey. So he told Bruin that he had to go to another christening. And off he went. And when he came back and Bruin asked him what was the name given to the child, Reynard said, “Half-Eaten.” The third time the same thing occurred, and this time the name given by Reynard to the child that didn’t exist was “All-Gone.” You can guess why. A short time afterwards, Master Bruin thought he would like to eat up some of his honey and asked Reynard to come and join him in the feast. When they got to the beehive, Bruin was so surprised to find that there was no honey left, and he turned round to Reynard and said, “Just-Begun, Half-Eaten, All-Gone. So that is what you meant. You have eaten my honey!” “Why no,” said Reynard. “How could that be?” I have never stirred from your side except when I went a-gossiping, (serving as godfather) and then I was far away from here. You must have eaten the honey yourself, perhaps when you were asleep. At any rate we can easily tell. Let us lie down here in the sunshine, and if either of us has eaten the honey, the sun will soon sweat it out of us.” No sooner said than done, and the two lay side by side in the sunshine. Soon Master Bruin commenced to doze, and Mr. Reynard took some honey from the hive and smeared it round Bruin’s snout. Then he woke him up and said, “See, the honey is oozing out of your snout. You must have eaten it when you were asleep.”
Saint Francis and the Story of Minus
The characterizations of the 4 processes are essential to a deeper understanding and successful working with them. Read about the life of Saint Francis and keep it in mind as you tell this little story. It will help to show the quality of subtraction as that of both loss and unselfish giving.
Though Saint Francis was born quite rich and loved nothing more than having a good time with his friends, he was so moved by a poor, starving beggar in the street that he turned his silk pockets inside out, emptying them into the beggar’s hands. Very soon after that he fell very ill, and during this illness he painfully realized that he had to change his ways.
His friends laughed at him, but from then on Saint Francis could no longer keep anything for himself. He lost everything that was given to him because he gave it all away to those who were suffering and hungry. He often went hungry himself and became so poor that he had to live in a mountain cave. But Saint Frances glowed with another kind of wealth. Soon every person or creature he met wanted to be near him, and to follow in his ways.
Minus is like Saint Francis. Though it may seem Minus is poor and always losing everything, it could also be said that Minus gives away all it has. Loss is sad yes, but giving is joyful.
Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of knowledge as a worthy goal. Tune in tomorrow for more on the Grade 2 language arts content, before moving on to the Common Core ELA standards and their ambient counterparts.