Day 4: Number Systems

Whelp, this was an interesting lesson. I followed the, where learners did the warm up where they listed many ways to represent the number 7. Next, I presented the class with the challenge of listing all of the possible combinations of circles, triangles, and squares in groups of 2 and 3. Students worked at listing all of the possible permutations of the three symbols. We followed this with a brief discussion and each group explained how they determined the possible combinations.

The second challenge of this activity was to assign values to the symbols by creating a set of rules and then listing the symbols from smallest to largest. A few of the groups developed creative, logical systems.

One group developed a system that sparked a very heated discussion:This number system includes a “purity system” and a “classism system” where permutations containing symbols that are the same have a higher value. This system, developed a few weeks after Charlottesville, led to very heated debates about the assumptions underlying this system and whether or not it is acceptable. I did my best to facilitate a productive discussion both relating to individuals thoughts on the value of diversity and in the inherent hierarchy of a numerical system. The class thought we were off task and that I would become frustrated, but it was an important discussion and I found it completely worthwhile. I wish could have recorded it! It was awesome.

To close the lesson, learners responded to the prompt below on index cards: