kitchen table math, the sequel: math & fractions

Saturday, July 7, 2012

math & fractions

"Academic Music"

No idea what to make of this, but I don't rule it out. Temple always used to say that music was the precursor to language. She may actually have said that music is language for some animals...I don't recall now.


SteveH said...

"The Kodály Method uses a system of movable-do solfege syllables..."

Where would we be without pedagogues? I'll bet I could come up with a method for teaching fractions using hand puppets.

What I make of it is that practice works. In most cases, pedagogues work from a strict adherence to and rigorous practice of technique - from the bottom up, not the top down. Some produce wonderful results. It's the age old question of drill and kill. If the kill doesn't get to you, then the drill can have a wonderful effect. Many educators don't like to think that drill can work in any way, shape, or form. Apparently, drill produces kill in an instant, and drill can never progress past that to understanding. In spite of their talk of "foundational knowledge", they think there is little connection between facts and knowledge.

Catherine Johnson said...

I don't know anything about it...but I do think there's something about music....something that goes beyond the practice effect. That's purely an impression. No idea whether it's true or not.

There are some interesting things with autistic kids and music. I remember one girl who could only understand language when it was sung to her.

In Jimmy & Andrew's first school here, the staff sang CONSTANTLY. It didn't seem to be something they were doing 'on purpose'; they all just fell into a habit of singing comments to the students.

I'm sure that has to be meaningful...that there was some way in which the staff was being reinforced, by the children, for singing what they had to say instead of talking it.

SteveH said...

Sacks talks about this in his book called Musicophelia. It's quite interesting, but don't go looking for answers. Is it a compensation issue, or is it a viable goal for everyone? The risk is that you will look for a complex answer to something that has a very simple solution.

Anonymous said...

The verbiage is a bit confusing, but the Kodaly concept is really pretty simple. The kids learn physical cues together with notes and note length, like tapping their heads for ti, ears for la, shoulders for so, etc. Note lengths or combinations get different claps, and rests palms down. They play these physical games repeating after the teacher. It's good practice to be able to repeat later with an instrument.

Anonymous said...

And yes my son understood fractions without so much as blinking an eye, because he knew eighths, quarters, halves etc. since he was five and plays them every day.

ChemProf said...

I do think that music can be helpful with fractions, especially because it avoids the "part of a whole" issue that Allison talks about. You fairly quickly get into 1 1/2 beat (dotted quarter) notes, for example, and even in simple songs you talk about quarter notes being the beat. I learned music with Kodaly way back when. It was a good way to introduce music theory concepts to whole classes.

Miss Friday said...

As a music teacher with a passion for science and maths, here's what I can bring to this party:

Yes, Zoltan Kodaly was a pedagogue; he invented his system of teaching for the purpose of instructing Hungarian children Hungarian folk music in the 1950s. It is based on teaching music by ear first, by preparing, presenting, then practicing each musical concept. This foundation principle could (and is) applied to all kinds of disciplines, not just music or math.

Studies showing that students who receive music instruction perform better in math always make my skin crawl. The underpinnings of music are quite mathematical, so those talented in one realm are often attracted to the other. Pitch is governed by some heavy-duty physics, while meter/rhythm are organized in simpler mathematical relationships.

Third, I subscribe to Scientific American's 60-Second podcast. They MUST be taken with a grain of salt, as they are riddled with errors. (Correlation = causation seems to be one of their favorites.)