Finnish Ed & Humanizing Math

https://medium.com/@sunilsingh_42118/you-really-want-to-rehumanize-math-education-build-a-new-ship-8aa6fe6b43d0

Had this hopeful future been the case when I was in school, I might have become a physicist.

But because my ability in math was based on time, not actual ability, I was even derided by the teacher in my precalculus class.

That being said, the Fractal of Life, in all its complexity and confusion has led me here, and actually anywhere is really okay. It is the journey, and feeling it, that matters.

At some point maybe the world education system will realize that there is a reason Finland’s education system (wherein children are not given homework and are allowed freedom after only three hours of school) has been top-rated worldwide. Maybe they will see that rather than trying to control and test what has been literally crammed into delicate grey matter, it is ultimately better to allow our infinitely more-intelligent-than-us yet extremely naive children to explore their world. After all it is theirs, and they will all tell you their concerns for the future, which are very real… Actually, there may be a correlation with the education system and the fact that Finland is also famous for its social support and peace in its society. It is consistently rated one of the top happiest countries on Earth according to the Happiness Index.

But it may take destroying all we have for reasons included in the Seven Deadly Sins (there is a reason they are called that), before we change our idiotic ways from control and fear of the unknown, to trusting and allowing guided growth. In that healthy future, people might choose very different careers. They might choose happiness instead of money, an in doing so really be alright financially.

In fact, people would be much happier because they would have been training since a young age to follow their interests instead of what they are force-fed to think is what they have to do. In this, the overall quality of everything, from furniture to management would improve, because only those who thought that they were good at something would pursue it, and they would know it from their elementary education. 

I was once told by Dr. Fujii, the Japanese traditional garden specialist, that the reason Japanese garden trees have changed so much is this. In ancient Japan, the trees were pruned for the way they wanted to grow. This style of pruning can still be seen in Kyoto, and the most beautiful example I have ever seen is the tiny private garden in the imperial palace there.

Now they are pruned to force them into what is considered the proper form, or what is most convenient for the space. They are caricatures of what they could be, and the gardens suffer for it visually.

The trees, like the children, are being stunted, forced to fit into a mold, and not allowed to become the greatest they could be.

Grazing that Stimulates Growth

I was taught as a bio major that certain grazers feeding on plants stimulate them to grow more.

I never suspected that it could extend into the insect family!!

ススメガの幼虫がクチナシを食べる。 Sphyngidae “Hawk Moth” feeding on gardenia

For several years, I have been growing two gardenias. They are native to Japan, but due to my lack of fertilization, perhaps, they have been scraggly since sprouting about four years ago.

This year I found a cute little caterpillar near my plants. And another one. I tried to see which ones they would eat by putting them on different plants, because, you see, caterpillars turn into beautiful flying creatures that pollinate our flowers and fruits. So I didn’t want them to die. I found that they liked my gardenias, and knowing it was early spring and they would grow their few leaves back, I put the little guys to graze on them. They chose only the tenderest sprouting greens, and we’re quite picky… They turned out to be SuzumeGa (Hawk Moth, or Sphyngidae, Larvae), who eat pretty much only gardenias. They are lovely, huge moths with a shape like an arrow that hover while sipping nectar from flower to flower. I hope they survived because I haven’t seen many gardenias around here.

The Hawk Moth baby likes only the tenderest leaves… That will soon grow back much fuller!
The gardenia before consumption on the far right in the tall pot. Isn’t it scraggly? I think I could probably count the leaves on it, and they are evergreens!
A Hawk Moth in the Sphyngidae family. I didn’t take this amazing photo (I got it from the free pile) but I wish I had!

Gardenias, by the way, come in two types. The horticultural variety, with many petals, and the native to Japan, with only five. That being said, the one with only five petals, also called Kuchinashi (meaning “No Mouth”) produces an orange, almost flavorless fruit. This fruit is used as a natural coloring agent, and rather than using carcinogenic Yellow Five, the Japanese use Kuchinashi to color everything edible from candy to everyday packaged foods.

Where did the petals go? Rather, where did the seeds go… The seeds were turned into petals over time, as in many flowers, by gardeners who wanted more elaborate flowers. And the seeds disappeared, meaning that all of those plants have to be propagated vegetatively by cuttings, and cannot have their own babies. They can flower but not fruit. So of we plant them rather than the ones that can seed, they can never make their own… Well, that’s another story for another time.

Gardenia, the many-petaled Kuchinashi
Kuchinashi – the Gardenia that fruits

Anyway, lo and behold two months later, the places that were chomped on my Kuchinashis by those colorful babies are now full of leaves!! The moths, I believe, stimulated the leaves to produce more in response. Maybe it is similar to the technique that is being studied for stimulating crop production (see one of my earlier posts); bumblebees bite leaves to stimulate flowering earlier than normal. Anyway, food for thought. Don’t let your friends kill the caterpillars! Especially the cool-looking ones!!

Leading the CoVID-19 World

What an amazing, surprising world we live in. If only we always held such fresh viewpoints, like those in this article, we would not be in the environmental and strained political situations we tend to be in.

For us to find endless sustainability, I believe it behooves us to adopt a system that is changeable depending on necessity. Linear only in bite-size chunks. True Test-Driven Development.

We, as the leaders of our world, are doing a horrible job. It is time to reflect our realities in Wabi-sabi rather than the Western ideal of taking all at once. And CoVID-19 is giving us that opportunity.

Opportunity to breathe, take chances in ways we would never have, and begin afresh. Let’s do this and keep a curious puppy viewpoint!

https://www.bangkokpost.com/world/1887745/dogs-being-trained-to-sniff-out-covid-19

Happy New Year, 2018 OR How to Make Kuri Kinton

I have fond memories of gardenias growing up. My mother loved them, and she would pick them when she could and put them in a little vase in the house. The whole living room would fill with that wonderful scent.

In Japan, the non-horticultural variety can commonly be found in traditional house gardens. It is called “Kuchinashi” or “No mouth”, and can be found in the US as perhaps the Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia — the flower looks quite similar. The flowers have five petals, and smell just as delicious. Instead of the many more petals, energy goes to making a lively-colored orange fruit in the late fall. Inside, a mass of red seeds and mush can be found. If you touch it when it’s fresh, your fingers will get dyed yellow.

This is a powerful yellow dye, traditionally used in all sorts of foods, and in not so traditional foods as well; it can be found commonly just like yellow #5 on normal supermarket foods and beverages.

This bright dye is used during times of festivity, including New Year’s. It is used in a dish that I decided to make today called Kuri Kinton.

Ingredients:

2 Gardenia fruits

Yam or Sweet Potatoes: 500 grams

Sweet chestnuts, cooked: 12

Sugar: 1/2 cup

Mirin: 5 Tbsp

Honey: 2 Tbsp

Salt: 1/2 tsp

Need:

-A teabag or something to put the Gardenia fruit into, a pot, a yam smashing utensil.

Directions:

Peel and slice the yams and put to soak into cool water. Slice the Gardenia fruits up one side and put inside a teabag. Crush.

Get the other ingredients ready.

Drain the yams. Rinse. Add enough water to them in the pot to barely cover them. Place the teabag in, stir. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until soft. They should be a bright golden yellow.

Drain. Add half the sugar and smash until smooth while hot.

Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low heat while stirring until the alcohol evaporates (about 4 – 5 minutes).

Smooth it into a bowl or container and enjoy.

… I think adding some vanilla, a little cinnamon, and some pralines or roasted pecans on top would be delicious!