We live in Memphis, TN. The nearest volcano is…well, I have no idea. Volcanoes are just not a thing here or anywhere near us. So when my four year old said that he wanted to see “the volcanoes” while we were driving through a local park, I was a bit thrown off.
Me: What do the volcanoes look like?
Four year old: Um…they look like cows. and furry. four legs and horns. I want to see the volcanoes!
Think you know what he is talking about? In an article reflecting on mistakes in the math classroom, Dan Meyer encourages teachers to respond to incorrect answers with a simple question: what question did this student answer correctly? When I first read the article, I heard what Dan Meyer was saying about mistakes but let the idea faded away with all the other things that dont feel super important or relevant. But then came the volcanoes. My son knows what he wants to see and can describe a few characteristics about it, but he does not yet have the formal language to accurately name the thing. If I assume that my four year old is making sense and is actually describing something that both exists in Memphis and he has seen in the park, I can (probably) figure what he wants to see and can then help with the things he might not fully understand yet. If that idea makes sense in parenting, then maybe I need to take another look at it in mathematics.