Observing Harry: Child Development and Learning 0-5

By Cath Arnold | Go to book overview

6 Harry develops
mathematical concepts
Mathematics, like language and literacy, is generative. In other words, when Harry learns to use numbers, to understand concepts about shape, space and measuring, he is developing concepts that he can apply to new situations.Piaget (2001: 163) tells us that thought is 'internalised action'. Harry initiates many actions that help him to understand his world and his particular culture. As we see in Chapter 3, Harry uses his whole body at first and then objects to begin to understand concepts. Just as he uses the stories told to him to understand his emotions, he uses the mathematical signs (like numbers), practices (like using the phone) and words (like 'on top', 'behind' and 'before') with which he is familiar to understand emergent mathematical ideas.Pound (1999) says that 'children's mathematical development, like so many other aspects of their learning, strongly reflects the culture within which they grow up' (p. 2). Schiller (in Bruce et al. 1995: 132) tells of a little girl who could work out 'pretend shopping' accurately in her head because of her real-life experience. She does it over and over again correctly, but then 'I had glanced down at the completed sums on the small blackboard on her desk; in every case the answer was wrong'. What she is learning in school does not make human sense to her and is not connected to the learning that she does, spontaneously and from necessity, at home.This chapter is divided into sections:
Harry explores capacity, size and fit
Learning to count
Investigating length, measurement and equivalence

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