Meet the Children Where They Are: Episode 4

Narrator:  “Although this series makes this interaction seem like a long period of time, it was actually only about 3 minutes…well, maybe 5!  Time flies when you’re having fun, okay?  Anyway, can Bob count two hidden piles of rocks?  Let’s get back to the action.”

(Math research associate narrates…)

RA:  So it was the bottom of the 9th in the World Series…or…overtime in the Super Bowl.  I was under pressure knowing that 5-year-olds have shorter attention spans than goldfish.

(Video: goldfish in a goldfish bowl — alive, preferably)

RA:  And I… now, what was I saying?  Oh, yes.  I was running out of time and still hadn’t found the extent of Bob’s counting abilities.  So, I had him count 9 rocks and I covered them.

(Video: counting 9 rocks, heartbeat for each count; scary music)

RA:  I then had him count 6 rocks into another pile.  As he did, instead of starting with 1, he said, “10, 11, 12, …”  I said, “Whoa, horsey!”

(Video of the Lone Ranger bringing Silver to a stop… horse whinnies, record screeches to a stop.)

(Video: math research associate kneeling in mud with child — slowly zoom in.)

RA:  Suddenly, I’m perplexed.  Is this kid cheating?  He’s supposed to find out how many rocks with BOTH piles being hidden, not just count more.  So what to do?  I grabbed 4 rocks without him seeing.  I told him there were now 11 under my first hand and 4 under my other hand. I asked him, “How many all together?”

(Dramatic music and still frame of Bob and RA…)

RA:  After 7-10 seconds, Bob said, “12, 13, 14, 15,” with an emphasis on the 15.

I said, “I heard you count 12, 13, 14, 15.  How did you know to stop at 15?”

Bob replied, “Because 12 is 1, 13 is 2, 14 is 3, and 15 is 4.”

(Slow-motion video of RA jumping up and down with arms raised…)

(Zoom out as RA walks toward camera — reminiscent of a political spot.)

RA:  At this point, there was smoke coming out of Bob’s ears.  His difficulty solving the double-hidden problem and his body language screamed, “I’m done!!!”  I told him, “Thanks, Bob, for doing math with me.”  And just like that, he was off like a shot, climbing on splintery boards and stepping on rusty nails again.

(Still shot of RA… anti-climactic music.)

RA:  There I was, a weary, muddy, yet elated man.  A kindergartner that can “count his counts”?  Wow!  What an exciting world it is when young children have such mathematical potential (given the right opportunities).  I was mentally exhausted, but I had a better idea of “where he was”.  

RA:  What we do is not for the faint of heart.  Neither is it for those afraid of dirty hands.  Educators, meet the children where they are.  It’s not a job, it’s a way of life.  Out.

(Dramatic orchestra music… fade to credit roll and outtakes.)


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