My daughter, Kari went along with Sue (on business) to New York City to spend time in one of her favorite cities for the next two days. I love how excited she gets. The high point for her will be going to see Spiderman on Broadway tonight. Sue scored two free tickets so it made tonight possible. I’m happy too. Kari loves the theater. I remember countless times she would pop in DVDs of plays, often musicals. The musical Chicago is probably her longest running favorite.
Kari is unlike the rest of the family. Where we think in rows and columns, she doesn’t. We are linear thinkers. Her mind is free, not restrained by common boundaries. We try to find answers by solving equations or executing processes. She uses intuition and “uncommon sense” (as I call it). She has a certain genius about her that I admire and will never really hope to understand. Having her in my life gave me a whole new appreciation and I envy that I will never have the mental capacity to be on her level in this regard. It’s an intelligence that can not be measured through standardized testing. For this reason, I assert the high school educational system has fallen short in the arts and soft sciences.
She made me entirely change my way of teaching. Ryan was like a sponge with information. Tell him something and he retained it, like a steel trap. Kari required a different approach and I soon realized that teaching is both individualized and an art. She learned through song and role-playing, and this brought joy to our home. One of my fondest memories was when she was four years old. I simply couldn’t find a way to teach her numbers. One day, as we sat outside using colored chalk on a canvas that was our driveway it hit me. We began playing “tag” and I used her drawing as base. I allowed the game to evolve then hosed down the driveway. The scorching summer sun had it dry in no time. The game now was that she had to draw number problems to avoid being captured by the Tickle Monster (a.k.a., me). It worked! We found a way to make the connection between her frame of reference and math.
Then there was the time she came home from her SAT exam. I could only laugh when she told me about one problem in the math section. She tells me she is given a problem where an equation’s variables are expressed only as letters, but the choice of answers were all numerical. “How is that even possible?”, she asks.
But, flip the situation entirely around and she resolves things I can’t even begin to understand. If I can’t solve for x, then I begin to struggle. Meanwhile, she’s astonished that I don’t get it. It is my belief that she is more capable than most of pulling from all areas of her brain when confronted with a problem. Because of this, trying to solve a math problem presents difficulty because it’s absent emotion, color, asymmetry, creativity, and uncommon sense. It’s like us trying to understand the diseased mind of a violent felon by making it an algebraic expression… it doesn’t work.
Really, I truly believe her’s is an evolved brain, given technology is making mathematics the matter of a mouse click to get an answer. I remember a teacher telling me that Ryan told him that erasers won’t even be around in the future, given the rate of technology. I’d say, if Ryan’s prophecy is true, Kari is well-equipped for the world ahead.