CCL – Are Roman Numerals Obsolete

I’m not sure who still uses Roman numerals. I learned them when I was in elementary school. I remember seeing them at the end of movie credits growing up, but that’s long gone. They’re still on the clock tower that houses Big Ben in London, but I suppose one could tell the time on a clock without numbers anyway. I haven’t even worn a watch in the past 5 years. Where else are Roman numerals used. I also thought of using the word sestercentennial in the title of this post, but it’s my 250th post, not the 250th anniversary of my first post.

We’re going to start learning about Ancient Egypt in my class, and I was trying to figure out what exactly the objective would be when we learned about the Ancient Egyptian numerals. It led me to think about when a certain tradition or practice ends and is replaced by something else, in essence, change.

The world is changing rapidly, but is education keeping up? We just had a week off for mid-winter break, and it’s given me time to pause and reflect about a lot of things. This week also gave me the time to figure out how twitter worked, and how it could help me stay apprised and connected of what was going on in the world without cluttering my inbox or remembering to check the various blogs I like. With twitter, I was able to follow two of my colleagues (since they tweeted) among many others I didn’t know who were eager to share what they learned at the NAIS conference last week. Even though I was unable to attend this conference in person as I did last year, being able to follow it gave me the renewed energy and optimism that I had after last year’s event. I don’t know why I hesitated to use twitter. It took thousands of years for Ancient Egyptian numerals to be replaced, but these days, companies that were once on the cutting edge seem to fade before one even figures out how to use it.

The week before our break, our Head of School gave us an article to read titled, “Why a School Doesn’t Run – Or Change – Like a Business.” Written in 2000, many of its points hold true a decade later. The article mentions the difficulty of change for many reasons. The author mentions that while teaching “benefits from regular refreshers and occasional overhauls, it doesn’t demand the kind of continuous updating that, say, law or medicine or high technology do.” A decade ago, I would have agreed with him on this note, but change in education, however slow it may seem to some is inevitable. The difficulties still remain, and school leaders must approach change with clarity, focus, and continuity while respecting educators’ motivation and innovation. The change has to be clear and articulated well. Educators can support change if the ‘why, what, and how’ are addressed. They can support change if it doesn’t mean “do more,” but instead means try doing things differently. Finally, a very important thing he mentions is that educators need to know what won’t change, so they can rely on some continuity.

If the objective of learning about Roman Numerals provides kids with different ways of thinking about numbers, it’s good enough for me and should still be taught. I’m sure our Latin teacher can give me at least X number of other reasons why.

I was going to write about a few articles I read today: George Will had an interesting column about Teach for America. Daniel Pink had a column about detesting the question, “What’s your passion?” Both David Brooks and Paul Krugman have chimed in on what’s going on in Wisconsin as have many others, so I’ll spare boring you with my two cents. You can read the articles by clicking on the links. There’s a lot to write about, but the Oscars are about to start, and I’m sure I’ll have something to else to say soon enough.



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