## A GREAT DVD — The Story of One

March 3rd, 2012

The Story of ONE is a fascinating exploration of how civilizations figured out how to represent quantities with symbols. With entertaining dramatizations and wry insights, Terry Jones explains how our present numerical system evolved.

How did the Egyptians build their pyramids? They came up with their own measuring stick and issued one to each laborer. Did the “ruler” come from the ruler? Why is it “Arabic” numbers (that actuallycame from India) replaced Roman numerals? Why was there resistance to these Arabic numbers that were clearly superior? Terry Jones delves into history and makes math come ALIVE.

Highly recommended to students from 3rd grade through high school!

## History of Mathematics on You Tube

June 17th, 2011

How did ancient cultures develop number systems to make sense of their world?  How did men and women in Paleolithic times the mark the passing of time and change of seasons?  What number symbols did the Babylonians, Egyptians and Romans invent to conduct commerce?   To find these answers, view:

This cute animated video also includes a history of the development of fractions which were necessary to divide land or share harvests.  You’ll see how development of mathematics not only made sense of the world but helped ensure our survival.

## College students do not know . . . fractions?

May 22nd, 2011

So I was shocked to hear from a friend that college students in the math class her son teaches at the University of Washington do not know  . . .   fractions

Without these how could a student score high enough on the SAT math exam to get into the university?  How could an eighteen or nineteen year old not know how to convert 2/3 to a decimal?   How could these kids who probably had some part-time job be so innumerate?  Would parents not be aware and sit their teen-ager down and teach him or her basic  math skills necessary for survival?

Parents see the C’s, D’s and F’s in math on elementary, middle and high school report cards.  Your child is failing math?  It is your responsibility is to sit down and teach your son or daughter basic math skills.  Without these, your child is doomed to struggle in school.

You can’t be a responsible, functioning adult without basic math skills. Math skills are a requisite for any number of rewarding careers.  You can’t be an architect, engineer or a financial whiz without knowing how to compute fractions, decimals and percentages.  You can’t manage a household budget or do smart comparision shopping without basic math skills.  You can’t be a good parent without these.

Parents,  invest in your child’s early years.  A third grader who knows his/her times tables and knows how to read (and hopefully enjoys reading because YOU love to read) will most likely graduate from high school.  Competent third graders become competent high school students.   Parents, it is up to you to instill a love of learning and ensure your child’s success in school.  A parent is a child’s first and primary teacher.

Image borrowed from questgarden.com.

## Tsunami

March 16th, 2011

Triggered by a massive earthquake, a tsunami unleashes its fury on Japan.  All of us saw the images on tv hardly believing a wall of water could be so powerful that it would crash through coastal cities upending homes, destroying buildings and churning down streets sweeping away everything in its path.  Minivans bobbed about in the detritus like corks.

Friday afternoon, people would have been in their homes, offices or running a quick errand in cars as the earthquake struck. Children would be at school.  A thirty-second warning sounds that an earthquake is imminent.  People brace for the worst as the quake strikes with seismic force.  Some are buried in the rubble.

But the earthquake wasn’t the worst of it.  Nature had a double punch. The energy of the buckling of the seismic plates on the ocean floor was displaced to the water, which came rushing to shore with all the wrath and fury of a monstrous wave depicted in Japanese woodcuts. The wave hit Sendai thirty minutes after the quake.  No doubt, the citizens were still in shock from the quake, perhaps searching for loved ones or salvaging photos and prized possessions.  How many had the presence to flee?

Unlike the coast of California, the northeastern coast of Japan is flat.   There is no higher ground to escape to.  The only alternative to flee as far away as one can inland.  You can survive an earthquake if there are pockets of air in the building but what pockets of air remain after a wall of water rushes through?  Now, of course, there is the terrible threat of nuclear contamination since the reactors have been damaged.  A triple punch to Japan.

The tsunami . . .  how strong that imagery of total destruction wreaked by nature.  I’m also thinking of a tsunami in metaphorical terms:  the tsunami of our economy with citizens unable to find work, the tsunami of the unrest in the Middle East as rebels calling for reform are violently repressed by a despotic ruler and the tsunami facing our educational system where the establishment seems to care more for its own wellbeing than that of the children they are entrusted with.

## Six Million Paper Clips

March 5th, 2011

Have you come across an award-winning documentary, Paper Clips, which documents the Paper Clips Project begun by an eighth grade class studying the Holocaust in rural Tennessee?  To better understand the magnitude of 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, the students decided to collect paper clips after discovering that Norwegians wore a paper clip on their lapels in silent protest to the Nazi occupation of their country.

Begun in 1998, the Paper Clip Project gained traction when German journalists covering the White House began to write about it in German newspapers.  I remember seeing mention of this project on the nightly news.  The earnestness of the students and the poignancy of a single, mundane paper clip representing one life lost brought tears to my eyes.  Jews from all over the world began to send letters with photos of family members lost in the Holocaust.  Enclosed were one or more paper clips.  One person in Germany sent a 40’s era leather suitcase with mementoes of lives lost.  Soon millions of paper clips arrived at the school.

As the Project grew, the German journalists felt that it would be fitting to find a boxcar in Germany, one of the actual boxcars that transported Jews to the camps.  This boxcar would be a museum housing the paper clips, letters and photographs sent by millions round the world.  At the inauguration of the museum, Holocaust survivors came to the ceremony.  As you watch the film, be warned that you will cry when the survivors speak of their heartfelt gratitude to the students.

Paper Clips is a beautiful, moving, poignant documentary.  Six million is too large for our minds to grasp. When represented by millions of ordinary paper clips, we comprehend the enormity of this number.  If you have children in middle school or high school, be sure to have them see this film.

## Does Tiger Mothering Work on Boys?

February 9th, 2011

Last weekend, I was speaking with two male electrical engineers from Korea, who had read with interest the WSJ’s article on Amy Chua.  “No way, would this Tiger Mother approach work on boys,” was their view, noting that Amy Chua has two daughters.

This got me thinking.  Girls tend to be more compliant than boys.  They’re able to sit still longer without fidgeting whether long hours at school or at the piano.  In fact, our school model seems designed for obeisant girls.  So why is it moms are better able to impose their will on daughters?  Is there something in the dynamic of mother and daughter that allows or even encourages this?

Are dads less likely to intervene or oppose this strict tiger mothering because after all moms know better with daughters?  Would they be less tolerant of tiger mothering of their sons and thus more likely to speak up against mom’s harsh parenting?  Are moms more tolerant and less strict with their sons?  Would they/could they impose their iron will with them?

The Asian violin and piano prodigies in Orange County are by and large young women.   Should we then conclude that Tiger Mothering might be gender selective, best reserved for daughters?

Was your mom far stricter with you than with your brother?  As a mom, do you take a less strict approach to parenting with your son, allowing him leeway that you would not allow your daughter?

## Immigrant Tiger Mothers

January 26th, 2011

Many of us read the excerpt of Amy Chua’s The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in The Wall Street Journal.   More than 5,000 Journal readers commented on the WSJ’s website, more than any other article in the Journal’s history.  The Chinese tough love approach to childrearing infuriated many.

I was not altogether astonished by this strict approach to parenting.  Not surprisingly, immigrant parents want their children to take advantage of opportunities denied them. Chua’s essay brought to mind Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club.  The opening passage tells of a Chinese woman who bought a duck that “stretched its neck in hopes of becoming a goose, and now look [it is a swan]  too beautiful to eat.”   The duck/swan image “a creature that became more than what was hoped for” symbolizes the mother’s dreams for her daughter.

Having taught English to hundreds of immigrants over the years, I heard so many stories of parents forced to leave everything behind in Romania, Iran, Cambodia and Viet Nam.  Whereas many Americans have given up on the American dream, immigrants fervently believe in it.  Their profound optimism and belief that their children will become “more than what was hoped for” reinvigorates America. Their children’s success is their success.

## Does curiosity influence longevity?

January 13th, 2011

I have a dear friend, Irma, who celebrated her 101 birthday this summer.  Irma lives in her own home in a retirement community, does not use a walker or a hearing aid and drives over to her friends’ homes and library on her golf cart.  Her mind is so sharp that UC Irvine gerontology has been studying her.  One of seven children born to a family in the Midwest, only she and a younger sister survive.  A frail child, Irma grew up on a farm in Kansas.  Farm chores, she says, made her strong.

After college a friend suggested she come on out to California.  Interested in business, Irma enrolled in UCLA and received an MBA. She taught business courses till her ’60’s and then became a stockbroker.  While teaching business, she took sabiticals and traveled round the world.  When she retired, she moved to Laguna Woods Village in Orange County.  One of the first residents, she raised funds for the hospital and the library and was the director of the library some 20 years.  An ardent hiker, gardener and birder, she also founded the local chapter of the Audubon chapter.

When asked what she attributes her remarkable health to, she replies:  “a sensible diet and a positive attitude.”  I would add one other factor:  her curiosity about people, places and current events.  It’s her curiosity that engages her in life and makes her so vibrant.

My recommendation to parents is to stimulate your child’s innate curiosity.  Yes, there are wonderful nature shows on tv but take your child to the natural history museums and other places of interest in your city.  Teach them to love nature. Explore the outdoors and vacation at one of our great national parks.  Yosemite is a favorite of mine. Life is an adventure.  Instill this in your child from a early age.  Develop interests and share these with your child.  Teach them to live life with passion as my friend Irma has.

## “Who’s Oprah?”

January 13th, 2011

spent Christmas with my daughter and son-in-law and their little ones in their 1890’s Victorian home in Texas.  My daughter homeschools her children.  The eldest, now eleven, has “graduated” from homeschool and is in sixth grade at a private school and is thriving socially and academically.

One evening my two oldest granddaughters asked my sister and me to play a game in which you draw cards with fantasy dreams such as “an indoor swimming pool” or “a visit to the Eiffel Tower.” For four players, four cards are drawn and each player discards one card, the fantasy dream least suited to the other players.  The challenge is to give the remaining cards to the player that will value it the most — points range from 3 to 1.  The player with the most points wins.  It’s a fun game, full of surprises.  “You’d rather have a cottage on the beach than a trip to Italy?”  a player might ask.  “Yes, that way I’d have a year-round vacation,” someone might answer.  The game promotes lively discussion.

I drew a card whose fantasy dream was an appearance on Oprah’s show and gave it to my sister.  Ecstatic, she immediately awarded this card three points.  My nine-year old granddaughter turned to her and asked, “Who’s Oprah?”

“Who’s Oprah?” my sister and I repeated to one another, mouths agape.  Later we reflected that the family uses their tv (out of sight in an upstairs den) essentially to view movies.  They do not watch television at ALL.   Oprah, herself, who paradoxically does not espouse watching television would be proud. (It was Gail who insisted the guest rooms at her palatial Santa Barbara home have televisions because unlike Oprah, guests watch tv.)

I got to thinking how television has taken over our family life.  If it’s always on during family time, it’s like another member of the family.  At my daughter’s, evenings are truly family time where parents or older siblings read to the younger children and all play games.

Evenings seemed magical in their living room, the Christmas tree sparkling in the bay window.  I imagined Christmas back in the 1800’s — the family together enjoying each other’s company, providing their own entertainment.  Children grow up so fast.  Don’t deprive yourself or them the time to enjoy them.

## Happy New Year! Thank you for a GREAT 2010!

January 1st, 2011

Let me take a moment to thank you a GREAT 2010!  Last month, my publisher informed me that my workbook was in the TOP three sellers for the month of November at Infinity Publishing.

Sales of my workbook are nearing 10,000 copies.  Teach Your Child the Multiplication Tables has been #1 on Amazon under “multiplication tables” these past three years.  I owe it ALL to my faithful customers who through word of mouth have made my workbook a success.

Had my son not resisted learning the tables through rote memorization, I would not have developed my method.  So as always, Scott, thank you for leading me on this extraordinary journey.

My little workbook connects me to the world.  Through PayPal orders on this website, I learn how someone in Singapore, London or a remote town in Maine heard of my workbook.  I’ve received countless emails from families telling me the difference my workbook made in their child’s life.  Thank you so much for sharing your stories, those from parents and teachers of special needs children are especially poignant.

Moms and dads, every day you confront routine problems in your children’s  lives and solve them.  I encourage you to share your innovations with other families by bringing these to market.  I believe if more of us would do for other people’s children what we do for our own, the world would be a better place.

Wishing you Happy Times this New Year!

Eugenia