Bea made it to the top of the slide by walking up the slide itself, the “wrong” direction, as most children like to go. Another detail to know about Bea is that she just turned one-year-old. Oh, and- she’s not walking on her own, yet. Well, at least across horizontal surfaces. Okay, she made it up the slide by using her hands to grip while she walked her legs up (not exactly a full bipedal move), but I have to ask how many of us would think to give Bea a crack at walking UP the incline of a slide when she hadn’t even demonstrated confidence and proficiency with moving upright across the flat plane of the living room floor? But Bea was ready for a chance at the slide, and the only assist she needed was removal of her socks. I appreciate every time I am reminded that learning isn’t linear. We can’t map out a perfect progression of learning that every child will follow step-by-step. We need to be willing to let the learner have the lead and follow where they take us, even if–no, especially if–they are headed somewhere we didn’t think they could go. This post might not seem like it is about math, but I promise you it is.
Molly Daley is a Regional Mathematics Coordinator at ESD 112 in Vancouver, WA. She started the Math Anywhere! project to help children and their grown-ups experience the creative and playful side of mathematics. As soon as she learned there was more to math than the rules she memorized in school, Molly was hooked. She believes math is expansive and she likes helping people recognize their own mathematical connection.