Selection from my Journal
February 15, 2002
Today I woke up to find Matthan looking through various History books. The name of one, in particular, is "The last 1000 years" by Dempsey Parr. I thought to myself, "If he is looking through a history book, I am not going to stop him for school." Was it Mark Twain that said, "I never let schooling get in the way of my education." I decided to fold clothes and wait until he got tired of the book, but he was really involved! In the back of this book there are many lists: Important battles; Prime Ministers; Notable People, etc.
While I was unloading the dishwasher, Matthan quizzed me on the U.S. presidents and then made fun of some rulers' names. He noticed that there were Danish Monarchs who were named, "Christian" like his little brother. He later asked, "Mom, why are there still Kings and Queens?" He had noticed that many countries who had once had Kings or Queens, didn't have them any more, but a few countries still did. He then went to the computer to look up Elizabeth II in the encyclopedia. This, strangely, lead us into a tour of Composers. I didn't know that J.S. Bach had a son who was a composer. His son's name was Christian! We listened to several excerpts of classical music which somehow lead us to World Languages, then we hopped to population growth charts which lead us to probability.
Our Encarta Encyclopedia has an "interactivity" section involving probability using a pair of dice. The computer can instantly generate and graph the results of up to 6,000 rolls which, when the results are graphed, would create a bell curve.** We made our own chart and rolled our own dice to see these results for ourselves. Then we flipped a penny about 100 times to see if we could show that there is a 1 in 2 chance of it landing head side up or tail side up. Then we used a paper cup! You know out of 100 tosses it landed on it's side 85 times! I think we might have tasted a bit of what John Taylor Gatto meant when he said that there is a difference between "school" and "education." What did Matthan and I learn? Nothing! But, Christian learned about gravity!
I had no idea that "chance" (probability) was a field of Mathematics! Things that seem random, might not always be, or they are predictably random.
**There are 36 possible different outcomes when you roll a pair of dice which will add up to either 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12. You have a 1 in 36 chance of rolling a 2 - "snake eyes," or a 1 in 36 chance of rolling a 12, with 7 being the most probable with a 6 in 36 chance or a 1 in 6 chance if you reduce the fraction. There are six different ways that the dice can land and add up to 7. See how this can create the bell curve?