This winter, my youngest son was studying time in school. The kids were told about calendar and time units. During an evening conversation at the table, I asked him why there are 60 seconds in a minute. "Err.",. answered he," It is a law of nature!".Hearing that, I had no other choice than to discuss time at our next math circle meetings ( 6-9 year olds).
Here are some questions that kids were interested about:
On time itself:
On time measurement:
We have also discussed different calendars ( no, this year is not only 2012 - it is also 4710 in Chinese calendar, 1433 in Muslim calendar, 5111 in Hindu calendar, 5772 in Jewish calendar.) and calculated what year it would be if we would count time from the date of birth of each student of math circle.
As one can see, the questions discussed are very profound. They are also the questions that move student to think deeply and to continue questioning the world.
It is both sad and unbelievable, that we do not let children to discuss these type of questions, when they are young and eager to learn - and feed them disconnected chunks of facts instead.
Imagine a boy who wants to learn about robots - and instead of telling him of an amazing and complex mechanism that drives the thing, we start teaching him about bolts, bolts of different sizes and materials, bolts and more bolts, promising him that after five years of learning all about bolts, he will graduate to learn about simple gears.
It is rare that we are fascinated by simple things - we are much more prone to be interested in complex, interconnected systems. Why not start by discussing big, global things and supply the little things - tools, skills, etc as the need arises organically?