A one-legged teacher

This is a follow-up post to Fingers are not like Hands.  My husband suggested that Zoe was able to tell me how many hands everyone had because I asked her only about people she knew.  The thinking was that she just pictured each person and counted every time.  To test this hypothesis, we decided to ask her the same question about someone she’s never seen.

Me: Zoe, how many hands does Katie’s teacher have?
Z: Two.

Well that’s that, I thought,  but Zoe wanted to continue the conversation.

Z: And how many legs does Katie’s teacher have?
Me: How many?
Z: One!

At this point, Katie and I look at each other and burst out laughing. The thing is that Katie’s teacher has recently broken her leg and Katie has been talking about it a lot. Once I was able to speak again, I explained to Zoe that breaking a leg is not the same as having it amputated :-).

So does Zoe know something about subtraction or is there another explanation here?

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About aofradkin

I enjoy thinking about presenting mathematical concepts to young children in exciting and engaging ways.
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6 Responses to A one-legged teacher

  1. bovetsky says:

    It is not about subtraction. Zoe is able to “see” a person that stands on one leg, like some of her broken dolls.

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  2. Did Katie mention that her teacher has a leg other than the broken one? If not, perhaps Zoe was only aware of the one broken leg.

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    • aofradkin says:

      That’s an interesting hypothesis. However, given that Zoe knows that all people have two hands, I believe that she also knows that they all have two legs 🙂

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  3. David says:

    I agree with Dustin. If Katie keeps talking about “her leg”, it sounds like she has just one.

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    • aofradkin says:

      Whereas this could be a valid explanation, I don’t think that’s what is going on. Zoe knows that people have two legs, and Katie kept talking about her teacher breaking “a” leg.

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