That was the title of a paper back book which I read a bunch of years ago. This book is still in print today even though it was first published in 1947! The subject it dealt with: Mathematics and numbers. Seems boring? Hardly!
This book came to mind just now while I was reading an article on language and how different cultures and peoples use language. Quite an abstract subject don’t you think? Well you will if you care to read this article and the points it wants to make: it describes obscure languages that could change the way you see the world! And maybe the way you see those who you are trying to teach linguistic skills such as basic reading and writing:
Why would different languages do that: make you change the way you see the world? If you already are the beneficiary of being multi-lingual perhaps this argument is an easier one to accept to swallow to understand! But the people described in this article are from a widely diverse set of backgrounds and cultures which have created the unique mindsets which they inhabit.
Here are the sub-headings which this article has:
A Language Where You’re Not the Center of the World
A Language Where Time Flows East to West
A Language Where Colors Are Metaphors
A Language That Makes You Provide Evidence
A Language That Has No Word for “Two”
And that is how I arrived at the title for this blog posting. Theoretical physicist George Gamow wrote the book I referenced above. If I remember correctly he got the title from the spoken language of a South African tribe of the Kalahari desert who had no need to count to a number higher than three. Hence the title of the book.
For those of us concerned with teaching reading writing language skills mathematics and a host of other “useful” and likely essential skills to our fellow human beings it would be well to remember that there are other ways of seeing reality and different ways of expression other than those with which we have become familiar.
Our current system has developed interesting perspectives and perhaps clinical diagnoses to describe these “conditions” and hence insulate us from dealing with them directly. Let us open our minds to the multitude of different but equally valid ways of experiencing and expressing ourselves and the world in which we all want to live — happily productively and safely.