Sunday, February 6, 2011

Numbers in Our Lives

One of the topics in both my grad and undergrad math education courses this week is how our lives are decorated, for want of a better word, by numbers. The Super Bowl is on right now and we know how numbers in the form of stats, yards, inches, seconds, points and pounds are rasied every fdew seconds and can influence the outcome.

One of the things I do is ask the students to think about the numbers in their lives. Do they ride a 650? Do they drop 1 and purl 2? Do they live in 104? Are they 19 years old. The really fascinating thing about this topic is that the important numbers that define our culture such as 50 (States), 1492, 100 (senators) etc are different for different countries.

26 is really important to those who believe there should be a united Ireland while 3 is of great significance to Bosnians. I recently discovered that 4 is associated with death in many Asian countries and that 13 means virtually nothing to the same people.

Just think about all the sayings that have numbers in them; 3's a crowd, on cloud 9, the whole 9 yards and "gimme 5". Are they the same in each culture? Do people from other cultures know what we mean when we say 6 of one and half a dozen of the other? What if they have no word for 'dozen".

There's an advertisement currently running on several TV channels for the Direct TV company in which they say you can receive 6000 TV channels by Direct TV. If you were wondering what to watch and it took you just one second to check out each channel it would take you an hour and 40 minutes to go through all 6000 channels. By that time you would have to start all over again because you would have missed the time slot for the programs you were checking out!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why such interest in numbers? Unless we make children aware of the numbers and numerical relationships, as well as every other type of math such as geometry, they will never see the relevance of what they are learning in the math class to their own lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment