Monday, May 05, 2008

E= mc2: Emotions of Mathematical & Cognitive Challenge

Was pretty frustrated with getting Joshua to learn how to count. Trying not to express in a negative manner, I tried to design games to help him understand simple additions. What went wrong? Why did he kept adding 5+1= 4?

In my desperate search for enlightenment, I recalled: Alan J. Rowe's book on Creative Intelligence- Discovering the Innovative Potential in Ourselves and Others

I was humbled by the apparent disconnect of what I always knew of my own son (his strong reasoning skills and creative nature) and what I believe is important as an educator (that every child is creative and intelligent in different ways).

Rowe clearly wrote that as educators, we rarely consider how everyone has different Creative Intelligence that affects how we view various subjects in school. A review of Winston Churchill’s life showed that he was largely self-taught because he had no interest in certain subjects. It is also frightening perhaps to acknowledge the inherent problem- that teachers focus on the students’ ability to do well in class rather than on other abilities. Rowe pointed that we can improve education, but we need new ways of “explaining” subject matter so that it is understandable by all. (p12)

David Perkins (Harvard University) co-director of Project Zero, studied the cognitive skills of artists and scientists. He believes that personality and personal values have a significant role in determining an individual’s creativity potential. A timely reminder of how much Joshua has inherited the "poor in maths" genes from daddy. Sigh.

I was even more struck when I realise that even though I have been conceptualising a research on profiling and differentiated instructions. I am keen to study how the application of Emergenetics (a profiling tool on thinking and behavioural attributes) on teachers and students could translate to better differentiated instructions in different classrooms. Yet, I was not able to even testbed the idea with Joshua. (Picture from

Now that I re-connect, I wonder, what could I do to help Joshua enjoy learning Maths? Perhaps, the more correct perspective should be 'how can I re-teach myself the concepts or principles behind maths.'

Ann M. Galligan, Northeastern University

“Kids catch fire differently.” They learn at different rates, and often learn best through different means. The challenge for educators and policymakers is to find ways to engage each and every student with
appropriate avenues and opportunities to grow, as well as to monitor and measure their successes. While there is no question that numeracy and literacy are skills schools should develop, these in no way exhaust
the means through which humans reason, nor do they exhaust the means through which humans make sense of the world.

To close, even in US, the stir on brain based learning is even highlighted as a religious issue. The following is an excerpt from Reverend Jeremiah Wright address in his NACCP address:

"Dr. Hale showed us that in comparing African-American children and European-American children in the field of education, we were comparing apples and rocks."

And in so doing, we kept coming up with meaningless labels like EMH, educable mentally handicapped, TMH, trainable mentally handicapped, ADD, attention deficit disorder."

And we were coming up with more meaningless solutions like reading, writing and Ritalin. Dr. Hale's research led her to stop comparing African-American children with European-American children and she started comparing the pedagogical methodologies of African-American children to African children and European-American children to European children. And bingo, she discovered that the two different worlds have two different ways of learning. European and European-American children have a left brained cognitive object oriented learning style and the entire educational learning system in the United States of America. Back in the early '70s, when Dr. Hale did her research was based on left brained cognitive object oriented learning style.

Let me help you with fifty cent words."Left brain is logical and analytical. Object oriented means the student learns from an object. From the solitude of the cradle with objects being hung over his or her head to help them determine colors and shape to the solitude in a carol in a PhD program stuffed off somewhere in a corner in absolute quietness to absorb from the object. From a block to a book, an object. That is one way of learning, but it is only one way of learning."African and African-American children have a different way of learning."

They are right brained, subject oriented in their learning style. Right brain that means creative and intuitive. Subject oriented means they learn from a subject, not an object. They learn from a person. Some of you are old enough, I see your hair color, to remember when the NAACP won that tremendous desegregation case back in 1954 and when the schools were desegregated. They were never integrated. When they were desegregated in Philadelphia, several of the white teachers in my school freaked out. Why? Because black kids wouldn't stay in their place. Over there behind the desk, black kids climbed up all on them.

"Because they learn from a subject, not from an object. Tell me a story. They have a different way of learning. Those same children who have difficulty reading from an object and who are labeled EMH, DMH and ADD. Those children can say every word from every song on every hip hop radio station half of who's words the average adult here tonight cannot understand. Why? Because they come from a right-brained creative oral culture like the (greos) in Africa who can go for two or three days as oral repositories of a people's history and like the oral tradition which passed down the first five book in our Jewish bible, our Christian Bible, our Hebrew bible long before there was a written Hebrew script or alphabet. And repeat incredulously long passages like Psalm 119 using mnemonic devices using eight line stanzas. Each stanza starting with a different letter of the alphabet. That is a different way of learning. It's not deficient, it is just different. Somebody say different. I believe that a change is going to come because many of us are committed to changing how we see other people who are different."

Bravo, Reverend Wright. Bravo, Mike Huckabee.
As to Joshua, dad promises to be more patient and creative to bring the joy of learning in all we do together!

1 comment:

hereticalpolemicist said...

Pedagogy is stuck in the inertia of verbal symbolisms when popular culture has moved to visual symbolism for learning. Pedagogues get tenured and recognition by passing knowledge in verbal symbols of words.

The complexity and nuances of current knowledge creates a mental overload for most, and particualry for those not trained in verbalism as the primary medium for learning. As stated earlier, the visual virtual world that is developing inthe digital world is presenting concepts in more nuanced and pronounced ways for comprehension than from words that must go through an intermediate translation to be visualized in comprehension.

Books and words are better as an index than as the content and context for knowledge.

Merlin at

Gratuities accepted at account,