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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

the diamond test

Earlier I made the point that children's verbal facility often gave a false impression of their level of mental development. Language simply develops more rapidly than thought. The test I proposed was to ask the child to draw or copy a diamond. This task requires the age of reason. In order to draw a diamond, the child has to understand vectors --- the idea that one and the same line can move in two directions at the same time. This is the same issue we have seen over and over again as separating the child who has attained the age of reason from one who has not. In drawing a diamond he child has to make the line go down and out at the same time, and that is a problem for the presyllogistic child. Many highly verbal children have great trouble copying a diamond.

From The Power of Play; David Elkind, Ph.D.

Dolores, my wonderful wife of 25 years (this August), is in her joy each day teaching kindergarten. As we were discussing this quote, she said something interesting. She doesn't use the word 'diamond'. They prefer to use the mathematical term rhombus. The shapes she has for her friends to work with are either big rhombus or little rhombus. They also use hexagons, trapezoids, circles, and squares.

I wonder: the fairly catchy TV and print ads "Diamonds are forever", will these kids understand? If not from the class lessons, maybe from other sources?


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