Re: Learning binary numbers

From: Mirek Dobsicek <>
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 13:10:12 +0200

Hi Marty,

thanks a lot for your reply. I was really interested in whether the
lesson would work with you.

I had the pleasure to teach the binary arithmetic to kids in summer
school camps, in the grammar school and to university students as well.
Some kids/students got it quite easily some did not. And then, recently,
I have read that socratic article. Since I really like and enjoy
teaching, I spent some time analyzing the article and one of the points
I realized is that there was always some sort of satisfaction and
accomplishment at each step taken. And you said you was missing these
feelings during the introduction to the set theory.

So if you have said that you got hooked-up to math by that socratic
method... Bruno would definitely took the hint in his seveth step serii.


m.a. wrote:
> Mirek,
> My previous answer to your question was glib and evasive, I
> apologize for that, but I think your question was misleading as well. In
> an attempt to be kind, you asked my opinion, from a pedagogical
> POV, of a lesson designed to make binary arithmetic simple enough for
> third-grade students. I think that what you really wondered was whether
> the lesson would work with a math-challenged adult like me. So, because
> I believe you to be genuinely and unmaliciously curious and in the
> interest of science, I'll try to describe my experience of this lesson.
> Did it teach me about binary numbers? The answer must be
> "Yes" and "No". As I studied the lesson step by step, I understood each
> point and felt at the end, that I had a solid grasp of the topic. Will
> it become part of my general knowledge? /No/. Will I remember it
> tomorrow? /No/. Why not? Because my sorry excuse for a brain won't try
> to absorb it; in fact it will try strenuously to forget it.
> I can think of several reasons for this. 1) I won't leave the
> safety and familiarity of base ten. After a lifetime of base-ten,
> base-two is disorienting and disturbing. If I were forced to live in a
> house with pyramidal rooms, I could do it; but as soon as I was
> released, I would return to a cubical house. Someone who is shaky in
> math to begin with, clings to the part that he finds to be solid and
> doesn't venture into the whirlwind of incomprehensible artifacts
> outside. 2) The space in my head set aside for mathematics is entirely
> occupied by base-ten. I use it constantly and value it as a trusty tool.
> I can see no way, since I don't design computers, that binary can be
> useful in my everyday life.
> 3) This is purely subjective, but perhaps worth mentioning.
> Binary arithmetic seems to me like a language of ants. I am not an
> entomologist or even a biologist. I don't want to know what the ants are
> saying. I /do/ want to know what the Russians and Italians and Spanish
> are saying and I study their literatures. My mind accepts and always
> finds more room for information about these languages even as
> it refuses/ /to accommodate binary. I know that computers and the modern
> world could not exist without the ants and I am grateful for all of it.
> But I am resigned to the sad fact that their language will always be
> inaccessible to me. Hope this helps,
> marty a .
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Mirek Dobsicek" <
> <> >
> To: <
> <> >
> Sent: Saturday, August 22, 2009 11:05 AM
> Subject: Re: The seven step series
>> m.a. wrote:
>>> a towel into the ring.
>>> I simply don't have the sort of mind that takes to juggling letters,
>>> numbers and symbols in increasingly fine-grained, complex arrangements.
>> [...]
>> Marty,
>> If I can ask, I'd be really interested what do you think of this
>> socratic experiment
> <>
>> Cheers,
>> mirek

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at
Received on Wed Aug 26 2009 - 13:10:12 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:16 PST