Counting On It?

in Reflections2 months ago

For some reason, my daughter grabbed an abacus to play with, that she hasn't played with for years. As I have said before, she is a pretty analogue kid, and isn't surrounded by screens, so she ends up making her own games, drawing, reading, or playing the piano. We do let her watch some kids shows these days, but not too much - a few hours on weekend mornings as she eats her breakfast, and her parents can get a little more sleep. Other than that, her imagination is her playground.


So, she got the abacus out, and was randomly playing with it, but this evening asked if I could teach her about percentages. So, using the counters, we looked at percentages and fractions, cutting them up into halves and quarters, and building the concepts around percentages. For instance, the idea that 2 out of 10 is 20%, 2 out of 20 is 10%, and 2 out of 40 is 5%. Then out of 80, it is 2.5%, but we can't half one of the markers.

She really enjoys these kinds of basics.

She also has a math test tomorrow, which she was upset about on Friday, because she had lost the "prep sheet" she had been given as homework as a trial run. While she was concerned, my wife and I are not, because not only is it all pretty meaningless at this age, other than when she was ill for a test, she hasn't missed an answer all year. It is the same for her language results.

Little of it matters.

However, what does matter is that she is enjoying the experience of learning, and is thirsty to learn more. Today, with my wife out for the election count (her candidate won and is now President), Smallsteps and I spent the day together, talking and heading into the city for a coffee with a friend of mine. She doesn't open up to too many people, but my friend is really great with her, and enjoys teaching her things also, including chess moves, and gives her little riddles to work out. With his own sun now an adult, I feel he is enjoying the time with a little more wisdom under his belt, and less obligation.

I like to think about counterfactuals, even though I know that it doesn't really help that much, since it didn't happen. But, I wonder what I would be like as a parent had I had kids when I wanted to, which would have been around twenty five years of age. That would mean my child would be around twenty now. I have always been a relatively "old soul" in many respects, but I wonder what kind of impact my relative immaturity would have had on my parenting abilities, and would it have been a net positive, or a negative for my child. I would have had more energy, but likely had less patience. I would have been more active, but I would have had less resources.

Would it matter?

Like most parents, I think Smallsteps is pretty clever and I want to be able to support her to be her best. But, if I had had her twenty years ago, would I have done an adequate job of raising her, or would my own immaturity rub off on her development and slow her down? Obviously, it is impossible to say, but maybe I would have also had a more technological view, relying more on screens like many of my friends did at that age, and she would be one of those Gen-Z depressives that are so common now.

The trouble with the current culture perhaps, is that technology is not only changing quickly, it is also being adopted quickly, which means that the impact of a misstep is going to be on a shorter timeframe. In our history as humans, the changes that we see in the space of a decade, might have taken a millennia to materialize, so each incremental shift, didn't have such heavy consequences.

Right now however, many people are making decisions right now, that will affect the not too distant future heavily, including the way we raise our children. The fallback position is that children need to learn how to use technology to cope in the world, but it becomes a default, with little regard to the affects of immersing children into a completely engineered world, where there imaginations are lessened, as they consume more and more. They learn and repeat what they consume, but they might not be building the creativity skills to take what they know, and turn it into something that doesn't yet exist.

Honestly, I don't know what is going to be the best thing for Smallsteps in the future, so I am going to go out on a limb and not do what the majority are doing. Perhaps, it will mean that she will be at the extreme, underprivileged, struggling to engage in a world that I haven't helped her prepare for. Or, maybe she will be at the other end of the spectrum, where she has the skills and mental frameworks to onboard new processes when she wants to, and can use the information to create value, not just consume.

It is all a gamble?

While the world of technological advancement will keep speeding up, we as humans are much the same as we were thousands of years ago. The way our brains process information, the feelings we have, and the basic building blocks of requirements to consider life worthwhile, haven't changed. So, if we have raised kids to advance and create for the next generation, and then for the next and so on as we evolve as a technological species - do we think that the technology is the answer to improving the next round?

At least I believe, not in the way we are using it.

Many are counting on it though.

[ Gen1: Hive ]


Chess is great for kids to learn, it’s a lot of pattern recognition, do that for a few years and get really good at chess

I think that the pattern recognition ability is something that gets built into brain structure, and then applied across other parts of life. This is why I am not a fan of cutting learning corners when young.

You can use one of the rows as partials if you need to.

I’m with you on the style of raising my son. We give him TV more than your daughter but we don’t give him screens or games. Although today my wife said she might want to get him a smart watch which I was NOT happy about for many reasons. The microwave radiation the fucking thing emits being the utmost concern to his health and development.

The thing with technology is the kids are unbelievably smart and capable - so they will adopt and adapt to it as quickly as they need it to be however hey are also children and absolutely need to be allowed to grow up free from the exposure to instant gratification and all of the litany of ills associated with the things - for as long as possible.

I do supervised uses on my computer with him - he mainly just wants to fuss around with word processing and type things since he sees me writing copious notes and emails, so he wants to emulate. I don’t mind those things but sticking a tablet in his face so I can play my own video games or browse social media is stupid as hell and an absolute disservice to him.

Yes everyone has their situations but I think it’s crucially important to keep the kids away from it as long as we can, so that they can develop “normally” is how I’m going to term it. There’s plenty of time for exposure to that insane shit when they are older, why rush?

Although today my wife said she might want to get him a smart watch which I was NOT happy about for many reasons.

Smallsteps has a watch for school hours - though it is on school mode during those hours, and she can only call us in "an emergency". There are no games on it, no fun - but she does use it to send and receive some messages from family (people have to be approved and are controlled). Since she is walking to and from school alone now, she normally calls one of us to talk along the way. Not sure about the radiation stuff though.

The thing with technology is the kids are unbelievably smart and capable - so they will adopt and adapt to it as quickly as they need it to be

People forget that we were children who didn't grow up with tech like this, but are still here, understanding things that most of Gen-Z still do not ;)

so that they can develop “normally” is how I’m going to term it.

Precisely. I don't see the kids on screens having superhuman abilities, but more have subhuman behaviors.

I love abacs.
When I was doing my exchange student senior high school year in the USA, in calculus class, that was the class symbol. I learned how to use it then. I believe you are doing a great job "controlling" how much time she spends on screen. I did that with our son, he did not have a cellphone until he was 14. And although he is quite "connected" now that he is 21, I believe joining late was helpful for him to value analog life as much as digital.

Last weekend I had dinner with some college friends I had not seen for many years. Some of them were parents in their late thirties and were explaining how much they suffer with their kids connected to their cell phones for so many hours. Everything is so addictive, that they do forget about the world out there. One of my friends told has they had to intern their daughter for one year in an institution to help her learn how to get away from cellphone addiction. It is not easy as everyone around them does the same, so as a parent, you have to keep fighting with their environment. Some schools here are starting to prohibit cell phones to fight against that.

And although he is quite "connected" now that he is 21, I believe joining late was helpful for him to value analog life as much as digital.

I think it makes a difference to the physical brain structures. I don't think it is a detriment to have an "old structured brain" that has the physical ability to calculate in the head.

I have friends where the major fights in the home with the kids, are around trying to get them off a screen of some sort. Kids are so disengaged with reality, and I think they are going to suffer heavily for it in later years when they will want to connect with real people.

Abacus is an interesting thing. I read somewhere when I was younger that in very big and multiple numbers, it can be faster than calculators. I don't know if that's still the case now. But that is very analog. Technology has been evolving at a very fast pace, and I can't say if what you're doing is best. To be safe though, having a healthy mix might be good. Teach her the basics of a computer, how to use Word, Excel, etc.

I have heard the same about the abacus. It is a pretty clever tool. I wonder if a person who grew up on screens could invent something similar :D

She will have time to learn Pc stuff, I will teach her once she is a bit older. For now, I want her to learn to write with a pencil, as that physical connection creates different synapse paths than if it is on a keyboard. She can do more later with digital stuff and luckily, she has a dad that operates in IT fields :)

I wonder if a person who grew up on screens could invent something similar

I doubt it, because there wouldn't be a need for it.

For now, I want her to learn to write with a pencil

Wait, don't schools teach writing anymore? I think writing is a necessity, and is still used today. I remember we had to write the alphabet, and then our names multiple times.

Greetings Mr. Taraz Smallsteps is living her learning process in the day to day of her cultural load and that is connecting her with authenticity, faithful to herself beyond any stereotype of other children who live the various artists that make up her identity and also to their parents who accompany them in their process of growing and learning.

Children are the best example of resilience and adaptation. Our children inspire us.

I think she has the potential to be a relatively special adult - but it is up o her what she does with the gifts she has.

I think you would have serious responsibilities and concerns about her by now. There is no stop point evern if they get marry, parents still are behind them and help them. It is a kind of lifetime parentage, at least in my country.

It seems to be the case. When I first came to Finland, I was surprised that people in their 20s were still relying on parents. Now, that is normal, all the way through 30s and into 40s.

You are doing a great job raising her without total access to technology. She would be grateful you did it for her when she is all grown

We shall see in a few years from now when she is a teenager! :D

My son also asked me a question about percentages. I gave him an example of coins, I said that 10 cents is 10 percent of a dollar. He quickly understood everything.

A friend sent me something today, because of a discussion I had with him many years ago about an article I wrote and how people aren't good at visualizing large numbers.

WhatsApp Image 2024-02-12 at 09.51.48_807f5609.jpg

I sent him back one of the visualization of the US debt in 100 dollar notes.

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You are really conscious about your daughter and I appreciate your love for her. She is cute lucky girl.

Your writing taught me about how to teach children about technological developments which should not be limited but must be monitored so that everything can function well.

The fact that you were able to teach her how to calculate percentage with the help of analog is a fantastic one
You’re a smart parent and there is no way your child will be smart
Keep it up!