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Issues With The Alpha Numeric System


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#1 belovelife

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 03:41 PM

so i tought my friends daughter to read at 1 1/2, he, continuing the education had her reading by 2

so as she learns numbers
she is confused by the fact that o and 0, and s and 5

i ponder this might be a disabling concept
where it makes it take longer to understand, causes confusion,
and slows the learning process
what do you think?

#2 Pincho Paxton

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 04:40 PM

You should avoid using them together. I avoid l I 1 i o 0. Teachers should avoid using them together in examples.

Edited by Pincho Paxton, 10 August 2012 - 04:41 PM.


#3 belovelife

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 07:25 PM

yes, but it is in her understanding of what she see's concept
where she can read
but now that the numbers are introduced, what she is reading has 2 positions, which doesn't make sense
therefore puting them together in examples is irrelivant
it the use of the knowledge that is confusing,
she is only 3 almost 4

Edited by belovelife, 10 August 2012 - 07:26 PM.


#4 CraigD

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 02:17 PM

so i tought my friends daughter to read at 1 1/2, he, continuing the education had her reading by 2

That’s pretty impressive. I was considered a very early reader, but to the best of my parents recollection, didn’t actually begin to do it independently until around near the end of my 6th year (late age 5), when I discovered SF paperbacks.

What does your young student (for utility, I’ll call her Frida) like to read, and via what medium?

Also, can she write (expressive) or only read (receptive)? As I hope you’ll see from the rest of this post, this is an important distinction when considering typography.

so as she learns numbers
she is confused by the fact that o and 0, and s and 5

I remember being vexed by the O vs. 0 and l vs. 1 issue as a child. I don’t remember being troubled by it when learning to read, because I don’t remember learning to read, because I learned it before the age when I began to form many memories that I can still recall (for me, and most people, this is around the age of 5). I don’t remember confusing Ss and 5s at all: the straight line and sharp corners of the 5 prevent my confusing it with the continuous curves of the S.

The problem was aggravated, and for me, somewhat relieved, by the technology of my day (I was born in 1960). Nearly all writing then was done with either with pen or pencil on paper, or using mechanical typewriters. The typewriter that I had access to, from about the age of 6, was a then unused hand-me-down, from my father, this 1951 Olympia portable:
Olympia potable typewriter.jpg
Notice that, like many typewiters, it has no separate keys and typebars for 0 and 1, but rather required you to use a lower case L for 1 and an uppercase O for 0.

Rather than further confuse me, I believe this gave me the lesson that glyphs are context-dependent. It was not impossible for me to type numerals using this machine, but the distinction between an l and a 1 or an O and a 0 was necessarily determined by the text before and after it.

Much later, in my teens, I began a habit that persists to this day of writing Os as rectangles, with sharp angular corners, 0s as smooth ellipses, ls with no serifs and 1s with the single one in its upper-left.

Around this time, I also started using teletype-style typewriters like this one
teledyne teletype.jpg
(the ones I used had the pictured paper tape readers on the left, but not the modem dialers on the right) from which I adopted the convention of writing 0s with a slash through them (Ø) to distinguish them from 0s. As I found myself needing to write 0s quicker than Os, however, I eventually mostly abandoned this in favor of the rectangle vs elipse scheme.

i ponder this might be a disabling concept
where it makes it take longer to understand, causes confusion,
and slows the learning process
what do you think?

I believe, that, in general, it’s important for children to learn about confusing ideas and conventions, rather than having them kept from them. Although this may result in more initial confusion and a slower learning process than with a keep-away strategy, I think it ultimately better prepares them for future learning, and life in general.

Children are, as a population, good leaners. In my experience, adults more often under-anticipate the ability of children to process confusing ideas than over, so commonly err by over-simplifying (AKA “dumbing down”) the information they provide them.

On the subject of confusing Ss and 5s:
Is the confusion with Frida’s reading the printed characters, or handwritten ones?

If the latter, I think this problem is likely a handwriting one. When writing, or teaching a student to write, the strokes used for the 5 should be very distinct from those used for the S. Sloppy technique here, and in general, can cause problems.

Back to my reminiscences ...
I must and we should now ask ourselves the relevance of my trip down memory lane to the mid 20th century to the future of someone like Frida, born nearly a half century after me, ca. 2009.

Like me, she’ll likely read more machine printed or display device-rendered text than handwritten. Unlike me in my childhood, she likely read much, perhaps most text on a display device rather than printed on paper. The Os, 0s, ls and 1s she reads will likely be easily distinguishable in isolation, unlike the printed pages produced by my 1951 typewriter.

She’ll likely write nearly all of her text on some kind of computer, rather than with pen, pencil, or mechanical typewriter, using an input device or method (keyboard, etc) that clearly distinguishes between numeric and alphabetic characters.

So, as far as the perils of confusing Os, 0s, ls and 1s, I doubt Frida will be distressed, or even aware, of them for long.

The main peril I’d watch out for, Belovelife, is teaching her poor/nonstandard capitalization and punctuation. I arrive at this from reading your posts at hypography, were you consistently don’t capitalize, punctuate, or spell in a correct, standard manner.

Nonstandard capitalization and punctuation removes information from text that’s valuable to the reader. Nonstandard spelling, unless done purposefully, adds no useful information, and at best disrupts and slows the reader, at worst, makes her altogether unable to understand misspelled words. It also, as I expect you’ve learned from your experience with hypography and other internet forums, tends to prejudice the reader against the writer, inclining the former to believe the latter to be uneducated and stupid.

I strongly recommend you encourage and emphasize Frida using correct standard capitalization and punctuation, and that you begin consistently doing so yourself.

#5 belovelife

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 02:56 PM

ok, well "frida" is oddyssey

she is 4 now i guess

at this moment, punctuation and that stuff are not in my teaching pattern, simply because i am not around all the time,
i tought her at first, then her dad took the wheel, and continued in the fashon that i showed him

its been 2 1/2 years since the beginnin, well more like 2 1/4

the issue showed when i was playing with her and asked her to read a work really fast
( which means: read the word so we can keep playing)

the word was MOSGO'S

the name of a coffe shop we were in

she read it, M-O-S-G-0-5

while showing confused energy :blink:


its helpful to remember in this situation that as she learned to talk, she learned to read,



now in the situation with my niece rhiannon, we had given her reasons for the similarities, where i am not sure my friend matt
was aware that she might be struggling with the idea


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finally, i also agree that there needs to be a certain level of understanding when it comes to learning,

but i submit that simple concepts, like the similarities between symbols that represent fundumental ideas to interpriting the
language we use, should not have these issues, while sure, in understanding it proves level of education, but if it stunts the
growth of a child, then who loses, everybody,

while i'm not sayiong that these hurdles are impossible to overcome, but in understanding the world you live in
is a joy in life, and the confusioin starts in the simple interpritation of symbols meant to help you understand more,
i think this is counterproductive to enableing the future generations to eccel far past the point where we are

( anyway, this is my format of post conversation, easily defined paragraphs, each idea unique, and the concepts flow together,
hows that for punctuation, :woohoo: )

Edited by belovelife, 12 August 2012 - 02:59 PM.


#6 belovelife

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 08:48 PM

As we reach a new age in humanity, I submit that there are certain flaws with the current system that we use. These flaws prevent the advancement of knowledge on a mass scale. the issue I amconcerned about is the letters O I and S in relation to 0 1 and 5. I submit that this issue with similar visual appearance, directly confuses the mind of the individual learning this symbol system. I believe that this contributes to the eventual disinterest in learning that plagues a large portion of people. While there are many people that continue to strive to gain education, this relation may instill a lack of awe within the time that an individual uses to learn.

Lets look at this piece by piece, psycologically. While i am a novice in the realm of psycology, I understand one thing. That anything that is fun, a person tends to more often. You can take an example of playing baseball. It is a team sport, it is challenging, and win or lose, you have fun playing. Then take an example of a person that never had a moment that uplifted their experience, and had a moment that caused dicouragement. This would be the introduction of numbers to someone who has learned the alphabet, or the introduction of the alphabet to someone who has learned numbers. Both would be at a young age.



The baseball player



A child the age of 5 years old joins a baseball team. When he/or she joins, the child is 1 of half the children that do not know how to play. These children are even distributed between 2 teams. For this example we'll call the child Jamie. Jamie learning the rules and playing with the team, has an average fun time, enough to keep interest, not enough be ecstatic. While the two teams play together and eventually all understand the rules of the game, progress is made. once that is done, the teams play an actual game, and the team that Jamie is on loses. This loss introduces a concept to Jamie that intiates an effect of disintrest in the game. While Jamie continues to play, the AWE in the game is lost.

The learning child

A child the age of 1 1/2 learns to read letters. This is a fun process and by the age of 2, she likes picking up books to read all the letters in the book. Later on she learns numbers, but while she learns these numbers, she gets a little confused by the similarities to letters. This causes partial disintrest, and intiates a loss in AWE of the game of reading. Now while she has a advantage over other people considering the age of learning the letters and numbers, it may still instill a lack of awe.

Therefore; in a new age of understanding, knowledge, and reason, are we stunting the growth of our children and their potential by continuing to use the alpha numeric system in this fashon? If we are, I would suggest minor changes to the system.

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more or less in format, that do you think

( i can't believe that i used capitol letters in this, this ain't happening )

Edited by belovelife, 24 August 2012 - 08:50 PM.

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#7 CraigD

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 02:58 PM

( i can't believe that i used capitol letters in this, this ain't happening )

Beautiful and spectacular, BL! A typographic symphony! :thumbs_up

To your points about motivation, learning, and feelings of wonder/awe, I’ll share my own conclusions, distilled from near half a century of experience and reflection.

Practically all endeavors result in some frustration. While some can be avoided – for example, by “dumbing down” instructional material so that it contains little challenging (often synonymous with “frustrating”) content – I’ve observed that people who are good problem-solvers derive a somewhat perverse pleasure from frustration.

As you note, BL, people tend to do fun things more often than not-fun things. So people who find frustration fun – awe-inspiring and wonder-provoking, even – tend to seek it out and spend more time in that state than people who find it discouraging and wonder-deadening. People who experience frustration as an unalloyedly unpleasant emotion tend to avoid it. In the extreme, frustration-seekers are driven learners, while frustration-avoiders manifesting light, Pollyannaish personalities. While the superficial character trait of a Pollyanna is optimism, her underlying and causative traits are an intense dislike and avoidance of frustration.

Skipping the deep philosophical question of whether it’s better to be a driven learner than a happy Pollyanna, on the assumption that most hypographers chose the former, the pedagogical question is, then, how to cause children to find pleasure, and thus be attracted to, frustration, and thus be good learners for the rest of their lives.

I suspect that the psychological underpinnings of pleasure from frustration are primarily deferred gratification. That is, frustration feels good because of the expectation of the reward of having overcome the obstacle causing it (for example, learning to distinguish 1 from l and 0 for O and other typographical ambiguities from context).

The key, then, to teaching children to be good learners, is finding the appropriate delay length between thwarting and reward. Too long, and the child’s doesn’t associate frustration with frustration, rather than reward/pleasure, because she experiences too little reward/pleasure. Too short, and she doesn’t because she experiences too little frustration.

That’s my working theory. Putting it to practice has proved challenging, leading me to suspect that the influence of teachers is commonly, and by me, over-appreciated, the degree to which children self-educate, under. Many adults I know and consider good learners characterize the role of parents and teachers in their childhood as “benevolent neglect”, as do I. On the other hand, we clearly learn, especially under the age of 6, much by observing and imitating adults, so it’s critical not to let them watch us, and do things that promotes this, especially reading to them while allowing them to see the text. According to my mother, I learned to read this way, gaining a limited ability to do it before being able to identify even all of the alphabet.

#8 belovelife

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 11:11 PM

well i also tought her to get up and play when she falls, if that helps

i see what you are saying about overcoming obstacles and being a stronger person from it


but at what point should that be tought
( interesting thing was the lesson in getting up when you fall , preceeded the alphabet lesson)

but besides that, when should this be tought, and should it be tought in a way that doesn't involve what they are learning

i think that this may hinder her growth , very little, but she potentially could have achieved more in the same time

while with my niece, she is super advanced, way beyond her peers

but at the time where this issue would have popped up, i was traveling

she is still fine, and all, so i guess it will be worked out, but i am just thinking of the level that it may have hindered development i guess

Edited by belovelife, 27 August 2012 - 11:16 PM.


#9 belovelife

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 12:29 AM

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#10 belovelife

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 04:35 PM

anyway, she is in kindergarden a year early



she reads a few words, and reads symbols, like do not ride bikes

no dogs
no triangles

etc.