Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rebecca Talks Logic With Her Kids!

I asked you to talk logic with your kids, and Rebecca came through in a big way! What follows is the transcript from her conversation with her kids. I've got some follow-up questions -- see them at the bottom of the post.

Three questions were posed, and I presented them to my children in order. My kids are K (8th grade girl), M (5th grade girl), and J (2nd grade boy).

1. Ask your kid: Merds laugh when they're happy. Animals that laugh don't like mushrooms. Do merds like mushrooms? Why?

J: Of course they do!

Me: Why?

J: Because they’re not real animals. They like whatever I say they like.

M: Nu-unh. You didn’t make them up. She gave us the facts, and the facts say they laugh so they don’t like mushrooms.

K: they wouldn't like mushrooms because they laugh when they are happy, and animals who laugh don't like mushrooms.

I thought the bit about Merds eating cheese with every meal might’ve thrown J off about food preferences, so I forged ahead.

2. Ask your kid: Every banga is purple. Purple animals always sneeze at people. Do bangas sneeze at people? Why?

J: No way. Bangas don’t sneeze at people.

Me: Why not?

J: Because they’re imaginary. They can only sneeze at people if they’re sneezing at imaginary people.

K: Yes, because they are purple and you told us that purple animals sneeze at people.

M: And they certainly have enough noses to get it done.

3. "Are glasses made of rubber?" Tell your kids: Glasses bounce when they fall. Everything that bounces is made of rubber. Ask your kid: Are glasses made of rubber? Why?

All 3 of them, resoundingly, “no. Glasses aren’t made of rubber.”

J: glasses aren’t made of rubber.

M: and they don’t bounce. I’d prove it but that’s dangerous.

K: nonsense. That one’s nonsense.


  1. Why did the kids answer so confidently to the third question?
  2. Why did the littlest one have trouble with the "make-believe" questions?
  3. What's the difference between the youngest kid and his older sisters? What do they get that he doesn't?
  4. Would an even younger child have an easier or harder time with these questions?
  5. When can children reason deductively? When do they fail to reason deductively?
One thing is clear: we need more evidence! If you have some kids near you, ask them these questions and send the transcript along to me (either via michael@mathmistakes.org or @mpershan on twitter). Let's figure this out!

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