Thursday, May 29, 2008

Z reads Anthem

Z's fourth grade teacher is reading Anthem to the class -- out loud. He started by saying that Ayn Rand wrote against socialism, and that the book was relevant today because of the direction in which the country was headed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kids judging adults

Mariposario has an interesting post about her child's encounter with an obnoxious teacher. I think it must be a bit of a let down for kids to encounter adults who are like that. Still, it's an important thing for them to learn about the world.

To very young kids, adults can seem omniscient. How can adults be wrong? When our son was around 5, we had to explain how we differed from his teacher about God. We never made a big deal about it. When they're that young, I think it's important to break it to them without contradicting their "benevolent universe" view.

A few years later, he began to understand that adults differ on a wider variety of issues. As kids move up from one class to the next, they learn that their teachers can be quite different. We would chat with him about the differences in his teachers, talking about their pros and cons. We also began to throw into the mix the fact that there would be times when he knows better than an adult, even if the situation demands he do as the adult says.

All in all it is a good way for kids to start learning about judging people, and about acting on that judgement. Judging people is not about classifying them along a single axis, but a little more textured that that. That's something kids need to learn. They also need this practice in becoming confident about judging others.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Science fair

Z's school had a "science fair". Students perform an experiment at home, and present their findings at the fair.

He had a truck roll down a ramp. Steeper inclines made the truck roll longer distances.

Making the truck heavier, with a roll of quarters, also made it roll longer.

We even had one unanticipated result: when we did the experiment on carpet, the heavier truck actually rolled less. I suppose the surface of the carpet resists heavier trucks more than it does lighter ones.

At first, I was sceptical of the idea of a science fair, but it ended up being a good exercise in the process of experimenting. As the lab-director, I insisted that my scientist repeat each experiment three times, and use only the median result, to leave out errors, e.g. a shaken hand, or an incorrect reading. After over 100 separate observations, Galileo needed some chocolate milk.