Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pondering the Constructs of Non-Euclidean Geometries Surrounding Massive Objects in Space

There is a study being conducted on Sam’s class by the University of Buffalo. They are tracking the math skills development of preschoolers. The study consists of an initial test, an interview, and a follow up test at the year’s end. The initial test was administered last week. Each student was individually asked a range of questions in order to discern their present math skill level. After Sam’s turn, the professor walked out of the room, eyes wide and shaking her head and said, “He finished it. No one ever finishes it.”

Leah told me of this just yesterday. The following story is why I was not surprised.

Last Thursday, I picked Sam up from school. We had a shopping list, so I offered to take him to Spot Coffee to get some hot chocolate if we could buy everything on our list at Wilson Farms. As luck would have it, all we had to get was milk, sour cream, and cottage cheese – all found on the shelves of the corner store.

We were driving down Delaware Avenue discussing his day at school, when out of nowhere he says, “Daddy, do you know what ten plus eight is?”

Curious to see where he was going with this, I replied, “I sure do. Do you?”

He nodded his head.

“Then what is it,” I pressed.

In the rearview mirror I saw him make a straight vertical line with his finger.

"One what,” I asked.
“The number that comes after seven,” he replied.
“Sammy, are you doing numbers at school,” I asked.
“No, Daddy. I’m teaching myself numbers.”

I took a second to let this sink in. My 4-year-old son is telling me that he is teaching himself addition of double-digit numbers. It seemed highly unlikely. I decided to test him.

“Okay pal, what’s ten plus seven?”
A short pause.
“How about ten plus eleven?”
Another short pause.
I’m kind of freaked out at this point. But it’s just his tens.
“Okay, how about 25 plus 3?”

This went on for about 2+3 minutes, and continued intermittently after we got our cocoa and sat down. I kid you not, neither Leah nor I has ventured past single digit numbers with him. Ever.

This week, Sam’s homework for school was to color the letter P.