Class Notes, December 1, 2012

 Thanks to Monica and her daughters for bringing Tinickling, a rhythmic, challenging dance skill to our morning circle. The children broke into groups and tried out the steps in dry runs and then with the sticks moving in and out. It was exciting and exacting; the children progressed nicely as they practiced more. Monica left the sticks and boards with us so we can continue to practice. Thanks!
    The Ramayana has many characters, Rama and Sita, and Ravana’s five thousand year old Spaceship. But among them is one of the most memorable characters in all Mythology, Hanuman. It was wonderful to recount his great feats and story with the class. All their drawings  were enthusiastic and respectful of the great monkey hero. But the central moment in the long tale, recited for thousands of years in myriad couplets, was the final meeting between Rama and Ravana, He Who Makes the Universe Scream. When the  arrow enters his dark heart he realizes finally, and countless generations realize, that goodness is more powerful than evil. How else could a civilized society endure, create culture and laws, any society, without some powerful metaphor that affirms that. Without that humanity is doomed; therefore every culture has some story to give hope to humanity. the Ramayana is one such essential human expression.
   The one thing missing in that ancient Hindu cuture was compassion; and so we’ve begun the story of the soul of Prince Siddhartha, its many reincarnations, its meeting with Brahma,Vishnu, and Shiva, and the young prince’s  choice to become the greatest of Hindu Kings, or a beggar teacher, a Buddha.
   In a class preceding the execution of a Scale-drawing of our Savonius windmill project I noticed the seeming arbitrariness of the markings on a ruler to the children. So we folded a paper in half. We folded the halves in half to get quarters. We folded the quarters in half to get eighths. We folded the eighths in half to get sixteenths. We folded the sixteenths in half to get thirtyseconds.  We then looked at the ruler’s markings again with some appreciation of the practical mathematical lawfullness of that measuring system. An ancillary problem presented itself: the paper was getting harder to fold. I gave them the pronouncement that paper could only be folded seven times; then I asked them the classic estimation problem – If the paper could be folded in half 100 times, how thick would it be. Some kids estimated, arithmetrically soundly, 2 inches thick. Some bold prognosticators essayed 20 feet! Of course it’s exponential; some kids sensing the tricky nature of this shot ou the prepostrous 100 feet estimation This week we’ll discuss just how many miles thick it would be. We did some problems where we used Logic to solve mystries. The students showed a real interest and skill in taking the sequential steps in thought process to catch the crook.
   We had a wonderful big music jam in the big room with percussion and melodies flying. They’re starting to function “ensemble “.
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