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Moment: Radicals

3 February 2010

Over cups of green tea and English textbooks, Noro-Sensei and I discuss the tendency of Japanese education to prioritize memorization. I explain why it is that I don’t do the recommended chants when teaching elementary schoolers–because language is fluid, and like movement cannot be merely recited if it is to serve its only real purpose.

Noro-Sensei asks what American schools do about radicals.  Or, rather, she asked what we do about 根号–it is only when she writes √3 on the scratch paper that augments our respective vocabularies that I understand.  I explain that we are taught what it means, and how to interact with it–how to transform and think about them, how they interact with each other, and how to express them in terms of themselves.

Noro-Sensei then writes the radical form of every irrational root from one to ten, with an ‘equals’ sign to their right.  Without pause to recall, she writes each of them in decimal form to ten digits.  She is 46 years old.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jennie permalink
    5 February 2010 9:10 am

    Wow! That’s amazing. I wonder in what ways that information is useful in daily life, but I’m impressed.

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