DailyDirt: Logarithmic Thinking Is Natural
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Most of us have been taught to understand math-related topics in a linear way, but that might not be the way our brains are hard-wired. Kids actually tend to have an innate number scale that is logarithmic, so even though they know how to count to ten (or even twenty), they'll actually think more along the lines of one, many, lots of many's, and then OMG so many that's like infinity. Here are just a few links on logarithmic thinking to ponder.
- Ask second graders to map out a few numbers on a blank line from 1 to 1,000 -- and you'll see that 7yo kids tend to space out the numbers in a logarithmic pattern. Fourth graders won't make the same number line map as these second graders, and it's apparently not too hard to un-learn logarithmic scales since many adults don't remember what a log scale graph is. [url]
- RadioLab has a nice podcast about how kids learn their numbers, switching from logarithmic thinking to more linear thinking. Young kids and even infants notice large changes (such as when quantities double), but they're not so good at exact amounts and small differences. [url]
- It's not just little kids. Some cultures think in logarithmic scales -- such as an Amazonian indigene group, the Mundurucu. Actually, logarithmic thinking may lie dormant in all of us, whenever we estimate quantities or deal with extremely large numbers. [url]
- What number is halfway between 1 and 9? Most formally educated adults say 5, but another answer (from kids) is 3. [url]