“All around us are facts that are related to one another. Of course, they can be regarded as separate entities and learned that way. But what a difference it makes when we see them as a pattern! …. They begin to make sense. The world becomes a more comprehensible place.” -American physicist Murray Gell-Mann (1929)
In our world of numbers, we always look at problems for solutions which is either correct or incorrect. This is what we try to teach our children. To correctly arrive at an answer through set rules when they face a mathematical problem. Math always expects a certain certainty in the answer. While doing this we miss out on explaining to them that in the bigger scheme of things there is no right or wrong. What is important is thinking about the problem, attempting to solve it and having a logical explanation of how it was solved. Arguably an answer which is incorrect according to rules will not fetch marks but then not everything boils down to numbers. The approach is equally important.
My daughter has been introduced to number sequence in school. Admittedly, I feel very happy when I see her correctly identifying some sequences. However, I want to make the math as real as I can for her and to help her see that we are surrounded by patterns be it in nature or in the art she so loves. There is real joy in identifying those patterns.Understanding number sequences should not be confused with correctly identifying the sequence in their home work or class work copies. This most of our kids can manage and those who can’t will. No big deal. Numbers to children, mainly those to whom they have just been introduced might seem abstract whereas nature and art is intuitively real. Helping them make the connect is what this post and subsequent posts on mathematics will attempt.
Replace numbers by your imagination: Patterns are ubiquitous
Patterns in the environment.
On our daily evening walk, I casually asked Arpita whether she thought that patterns was just limited to numbers or whether she could imagine patterns in our everyday life. To my disappointment her answer was that patterns only existed in numbers. So I asked her to imagine that there were no numbers. Then would she see no patterns at all? I hinted that maybe she could think of a few animals that have patterns and to my relief out popped the answers which I desired. She said that the stripes on a zebra followed a pattern and the spots on a cheetah has a pattern. Satisfied I pointed out that patterns patterns keep coming up everywhere in the environment. Be it the five leaf arrangement of leaves on a twig, or the stripes of a zebra that she mentioned or the beautiful array of feathers of a peacock, nature abounds in zillions of patterns of different size, shape and colours. Biologists have found out that plants can grow new cells in spirals. For example the pattern of seeds in this beautiful sunflower. A trained eye will be able to recognize the pattern and be wowed by its beauty. Such number patterns existing in nature are called fibonacci numbers. In short patterns were not just limited to math books but spill over to the world around us.
It doesn’t add up or does it? Patterns in art.
Patterns in art more often than not are borrowed from nature. They make the art more visually appealing. Artists, use patterns intuitively and spontaneously making art interesting. Indian folk art is replete with exciting patterns. Take for instance Warli Folk Paintings of Maharashtra in India. The tiny geometrical figures joined together in the paintings depicting social life follows usually beautiful geometrical patterns (circles, triangles or squares). I tried to explain to her that in art there might not be any apparent use of numbers. Despite this patterns amicably exist in art lending the art work a lot of character. Showed her a doodle that I made of flowers and leaves . She just loved it. Waiting for her to start doodling seriously. Haha is that not an oxymoron?
One two buckle my shoe
Definition of number sequence: Simplistically, a number sequence, in mathematics, are numbers, that follow a particular pattern.
Examples of some sequences:
1) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
2) 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14
If we look around, we will see number patterns in everything that uses numbers. Examples are telephone numbers (444-666-8989), house number (5665) and other things of everyday use.
…….. to be continued
Interesting websites/posts referred to for this article:
1. Art is fun