Friday, December 19, 2014


Yesterday's discussion in philosophy class was about knowledge.  Think about something you know. How do you know it's true? How do we really know anything? Firsthand knowledge, personal experience?  But what if our whole lives are just a dream?  Do you know something because you can detect it with your senses (seeing is believing?)?  You can't always trust what you see (optical illusions).   That led to a good chat about doubting Thomas.  A lot of what we think we know is just what others tells us.  Do we trust that?  How do THEY know? 

At this point, Sarah said, "Well, I KNOW that seven times nine is sixty-three."  I told her that's one thing I like about math.  It is absolute. Seven times nine is always sixty-three.  It makes sense, and it never changes.  There's a definite right answer that everyone agrees on. No gray areas. You know when you get the right answer, and then you're done.  Everything else is rather ethereal and unsettling.

My astronomy professor in college asserted that the universe is expanding all the time.  He said if you wake up in the morning and everything is twice the size as it was when you went to bed, how would you know?  You can't measure it, because even your measuring stick doubled in size. That blew my mind and made me want to do a page of math problems.  I like thinking about abstract ideas and trying to wrap my brain around concepts, but after awhile, I feel like the rug is being pulled out from under me, and I want to get my feet back on solid ground.

Noah and I had this discussion:
N: What is the point of doing math? When will I ever use algebra in real life?
M: Maybe you won't ever use this specific skill, but the point is learning how to THINK, which you will use all your life.
N: Not really.  If I need to know something, I can just google it.
M: That's disturbing.  We are not robots.  God created us with brains.  It's just FUN to exercise them!  Doesn't it feel good to think and solve problems?

I don't really care if my kids memorize state capitals, do busywork, do advanced math, know the periodic table, or diagram a sentence.  I want them to be able to read well, communicate well, and love learning.  I give them the structure of classes to help them focus and do their best with a good attitude, even if it's something they don't want to do.  I think that's a good skill to develop, because don't we all spend a lot of time doing things we don't want to do?  Besides if we didn't have "school time", they would default to staring at their screens, becoming more robotic than human.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.