Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Local news

We met with the teacher last night, and it seemed to go reasonably well. We talked about all manner of techniques for helping out the eldest with math, but I rather bluntly stated at the end that I thought it would be simplest if the extra help lady spoke more slowly so my kid might understand her, smiled, was patient and was basically nice. That mostly is the problem. My kid's teacher said she would speak to her. Let's hope it works.

The other thing that kind of amazed us was what the extra-help lady was trying to get her to learn. My kid can do long division if it is single digit divisors no problem. For instance 5678 *hey, I don't have a division sign!* OK, 5678 divided by 3. No problem; but 5678 divided by 45. OK, she could do it, but she'd have problems. Here though, what they want them to do, and what is apparently VERY IMPORTANT is that they do this division without writing down some of the numbers. *you may need paper and a pencil to follow what is coming up* So say you are dividing 565 by 9. You would look at it, figure out that 9 goes into 56 6 times, write the 6 in the answer space, and instead of writing down the 54, subtracting it, and then getting the remainder, you have to do that part in your head, just writing down the remainder under the 56. Then bring down the next number and repeat. The man and I both looked at each other goggle-eyed, and told the teacher we had never done it this way, and we would try to explain it to the girl, who definitely cannot do it.

The husband has an engineering degree so is a bit of a math wiz. He worked out celestial navigation from the tables, without much instruction. This involves long and complicated bits of math, I think involving calculus and more. He even figured out that there were errors in some of the tables we had. I am not in his league, but I have always basically like math and been good at it, well, until grade thirteen, but that's another post. We both, even the math wiz husband, looked rather stunned. We could both do it, but, well, why?

Anyway, anticipating complete conniptions from the eldest when shown this, I got her all psyched up: this is hard, they don't expect you to be able to do it now, they are building to this slowly....yadda yadda yadda....then I showed her. "Oh, that's easy, no problem!"

Well great!

While I was walking the kids to school after lunch yesterday, we noticed someone putting a bed frame out by the garbage in front of our house. They don't do yard sales here, if you don't want something, you just put it out, and someone usually takes it. There is no stigma associated with dumpster diving here...well this looked pretty cool, bed frame with drawers. I think I mentioned it yesterday. Well it is insanely heavy. The man and I were struggling with it in the stairwell last night around 8:30 when one of the guys downstairs came home. The fittest looking one. Well, he was all over this, aside from the fact he couldn't get to his apartment door, he just rolled up his sleeves and dug in. Even he said it was heavy. Oooof. They got up three flights, and then it jammed. The ceiling is lower, and this sucker wasn't going up. Back down it went. I've written it off at this point, but no. Mountain boy downstairs trots off to the Casal and comes back with a mountaineering rope. Out onto our balcony, dropping ends over and tying them off to the rail. Seems we'll be hauling it up on the outside. I will meanly say that he didn't flake the rope down properly so it tangled, but he was otherwise very capable. Then he and the man are out in the street tying it on. Pretty competently, then up on the balcony hauling away. We have windows in the front that are fully eight feet wide and open all the way out, so in it comes, he helps us haul it into the room, and coils his rope and goes. We gave him one of the bottles of champagne that the man got for Christmas.

I could actually understand him tonight too, he is one of the people I have the most trouble with Catalan. I cannot even pick out individual words with him, it sounds like machine gun fire, but tonight...I was getting a fair amount. The man also has trouble understanding him sometimes, and he said that he was more comprehensible last night too.

He was hilariously stunned that our 8 year old was in bed at 9pm, and was surprised that the 11 year old was in her pyjamas. He even asked twice when they get up in the morning. We are so unSpanish. Local kids wouldn't have had dinner yet.

Dog crap update. It must have to do with market day, I went out to buy my goodies, and two new fresh turds appeared while I was gone. This time though, they were just in front of the building, not in the doorway, so I am not taking it personally. Someone must come by here on Wednesday mornings, and the wafting aroma of his Chuckiness must give him the urge. Oh, and our Catalan assistant from downstairs was amused by Chuck's name. The only word in Catalan it is close to is xoc. Pronounced shock. It means crash. He thought we had named the dog 'crash' which isn't actually all that bad a name for a dog in fact.

Here's a weird or funny thing at the husband's work. Every day someone goes around at about 10 and takes orders, as none of them have had breakfast, one of the local places does sandwiches and they can order them. So someone comes around; coffee? Sandwich? Well this time they came around asking if anyone wanted to have a physical. They must have some sort of plan at the man's work. Coffee? Tea? Salami and tomato? Would you like a physical with that?

Very strange.


Beth said...

Well, I'm glad your daughter had no problem doing the division that way because I tried it and I had trouble! I like to see those double digits right in front of me.
Nice that you're getting to know your neighbours - what a helpful guy re: the bedframe. And apparently your Catalan is getting better and better..

kate said...

Our kids are in bed by nine, too (except in the summer, when it doesn't even get dark until ten--though they don't stay up that late usually.) Actually a lot of the kids we know (around 4 years old) are in bed at nine, but that probably gets harder when they get older...

Boo and Trev said...

I've read about this that different countries have different methods of teaching arithmatic. I believe that some actually teach cheats and shortcuts which kids from other countries (ie the UK) have to learn for themselves or not at all. Mind you the UK is the worst place in the civilized worlkd to bring up children.
Kieran says that once you get to a certain level of maths (he's doing a masters) you don't actually do arithmatic at all. However I think you have to have been good at it to get to that level! Maybe once you get to that level you just have an expensive calculator to do it all for you

Beth said...

It is strange, to hear how other countries do garage sales, dumpster diving(which I love), stuff like that. When my kids were little, they always went to bed by 9pm! You need a break sometimes and I think kids need lots of grandma always said that's when you grow--in your sleep.

oreneta said...

Beth: I was absolutely stunned by her unconcern about that division. Goes to show the flexibility of youth.

Kate: I am glad some kids in this country go to bed before me. Maybe it is a Catalan thing?

Boo and Trev: I think you and K are right about math no longer being sums after a while. They are essentially learning the language at this stage, rather than thinking in it and discovering with it.

Beth: I don't know why this isn't the nation of cranky people. No one to bed before 11, if your over 4, and no breakfast, not even coffee till 10:30 or 11. You would not like me if I lived by that one would.