Green fields of glory

Pythagorean theorem in practice...

Written on 31 January 2021

The children at home. I thought I would mainly be writing about homesteading. I thought of the vegetable garden, the greenhouse, the chickens, making things yourself and canning products, etc. And sure, that will all be part of this. But what makes this period so special for me, so characteristic, are the children.

Never before we have been together as much as last year. And that entails a very different dynamic than when they spend a lot of time at school. I can say that it is indeed more dynamic. As far as I am concerned, it is a wonderful dynamic. Sometimes I get the jitters. Am I doing it right? Are they all getting what they need? Am I getting enough of what I need? I see more and more that these questions are not my enemy, but my friend. I don't have to hide them and be afraid of the answer. Imagine that one of the answers would be 'no'... you can just do something about that. Of course things don't always go perfectly. That is not realistic at all. Of course one of us will sometimes (or sometimes all at the same time) be in short of something. And then you look at what you can do to change that. And that... is called growth!

And that is actually the most wonderful phenomenon I have experienced in my life. I see it in nature.. I see it in myself... I see it in the children. This is what I liked best when I was a teacher. That moment when you see the light go on in their understanding. That things are going to fall into place. That process of hitting a problem or a lack of understanding, sometimes even thinking that it will never work or you will never understand… and then suddenly that moment, when the 'light goes on'. Pling! I have to think of a lightbulb against Einstein's head. Eureka!

This week I had such a moment, that I would want to share here. My oldest (11) came to me with a question. A while ago he had made a sandbox for his youngest brother as a birthday present. It has become a square sandbox. But, he asked now, how do I ensure, if I want to make something like that... that it really becomes a square? I had wooden planks with all the same size, but it has actually become slightly more of a diamond shape than a square. I should be able to calculate the distance between the opposite corners (and he drew it for me on a piece of paper in the meantime), but how do I do that?

Ha!! That made my heart burn. He just asked me for the Pythagorean theorem! I NEVER used this in real life... but as practical as my son is, he just needed this information for his projects. So that's where my knowledge came in handy. I just dug into my memory and we also watched an explanation of it on youtube. So I found out that I also had to explain how to calculate a four-square and square root... and on a piece of paper we did some exercises with this to see if we understood it correctly... I also immediately explained how to do this on a calculator... and yes, our calculations turned out to be correct.

This was a wonderful moment. But, I said, now you should ask your father the same question... because sometimes he has very different practical solutions to such a problem. So we presented the problem... Hendrik took a piece of paper, scribbled a calculation on it and I felt Joas his victory: Hendrik had just used the Pythagoras theorem ... and Joas recognized it and now knew that he was able to do this himself.

And so my mother- and teacherheart was happy, warm and amazed. So that's how it works! When a child is ready, the new information just glides in... like hot cakes over the counter! Calculating square, square root and the hypotenuse of a right triangle... according to mathematical principles... within 15 minutes. Plus, he knows that if he needs it again... the internet has the answer.




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