Thursday, 15 October 2009

Mathematical contemplations of a woman who should know better than to extrapolate data from one experiment & apply it to a totally different situation

This morning the kids and I went to see the film 'G-Force 3D', which was showing as part of Film Education Schools week. I usually book us in to see a few films, primarily because it's free (always good!), but also because I think it's an interesting opportunity for the kids to share space with large groups of schooled children and their accompanying teachers. It's educational.

Perhaps it's just me, but I'm fascinated by the teacher-child relationship in the classroom, and equally fascinated to see this relationship in action during school trips out of the classroom.
So, to kill the 20 minutes time before the showing of the film, I suggested to ds1 and ds2 that we keep a tally of how many times the teachers said 'sshhh' and 'don't' and 'stop'. [Am I a bad home educating mother? Probably best not to go there.]

The two words 'don't' and 'stop'were only heard a couple of times. Hmm...that surprised me. (I had a pre-ordained idea of the outcome of the experiment). Perhaps it depends on the teacher or the age of the children: I've noticed at previous screenings that these words are more popular among teachers with older children (age 8+yrs); these kids were a tad younger.

And then I think we sussed why we weren't hearing these words; it was because the teachers (or one teacher in particular) were giving orders instead: 'sit down!', 'listen to me!' etc. As ds2 so beautifully pointed out 'It's as if they are talking to a dog!' [I had to stifle a few giggles at that point]

As for the number of times the teachers said 'sshhh'...well we did our tally on a scrap of paper[incidentally, despite yesterday's concerns about maths, this was a lovely mathematical moment demonstrating to ds2 how to do five-bar tally keeping and then count up in fives]. In the 15 minutes or so before the film, the teachers - in fact primarily ONE teacher - told the children to 'sshh' an amazing 34 times!!! 34 TIMES!!!

Now, I'm not saying I've never sshh'ed my children. I do it often. Probably more often than I would like. But I'm thinking that 34 times in 15 minutes, in a large, mostly empty, but noisy auditorium where there isn't actually any need for the children to be quiet, is really quite incredible. And it does make me wonder how often that teacher might need to say 'sshhh' in a classroom...
... So, using the above example, lets be generous and say that this particular teacher in school only says 'sshh' an average of 10 times every fifteen minutes, that's - er - 40 times an hour. A school day is roughly 9am - 3pm, let's say an hour for lunch, 1/2 hour for play (though that's being overgenerous and assumes teachers don't say sshh during break times) which leaves 4.5 hours of classroom time.
4.5 X 40 is 180.
Multiply that by 5 days gives us 900 .
So theoretically, unless a teacher is giving a really rivetting lesson and the kids are silently enthralled, a school child could potentially hear the word 'sshh' 900 times in a school week.

900 times!!
Blimey, no wonder so many kids tune out. And no wonder that when they get home, all they are capable of is monosyllable replies and flopping in front of the tv. If I was told to shut up almost continually I would give up any attempt at communication, other than outright rebellion!

Anyway, on another topic altogether, its dd's birthday on Saturday, and her little birthday tea tomorrow. Apparently 'we' (the royal 'we'?) are making a dog cake with Tesco chocolate-flavoured log roll, smarties and chocolate rolls and lots of melted chocolate. I was just wondering how to do the tail while shovelling frozen pizza into bags at the Tescos checkout (as you do) when dd casually mentioned Kit Kats. Kit kats? I'm thinking that's just an excuse to go buy even more chocolate. Woman of little willpower has already eaten half a bar of the chocolate that will be used to cover the log roll and make it look 'dog-like'. [well...it was unguarded in the fridge] I suppose it could be a dog with mange...a bit of it's chocolate fur is missing. Ah well, if I cover it in enough smarties, I'm sure she wont notice.

Anyway, as usual, I have convinced myself that it is a bad idea for me to actually MAKE the cake. Decorating -yes. Making-No! As I frequently say to my children: ' You can either have a home-baked cake for your birthday...or you can have a nice mummy. The two are mutually exclusive.' Though to be fair, nice mummy left home at the point when I ended up with more kids than I have hands.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

We went to the Royal Albert Hall yesterday--and had fun observing the school kids in Hyde park before we went in. My two had so many questions: why do they have to walk 2-by-2 in a park? Why can't they talk when they are walking in the park? Why did the teachers make them sit on the wet grass to eat? Why is the only game they know was knocking each other down? Why do they talk so loud? Why do the teachers yell at them?

When we were inside--the constant motion of the theatre made me dizzy--it was a sea of motion!