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What exactly is counting?

Do we have a very deep misconception about counting? We mistake reciting for counting.

Activity

Let 8 persons be seated in a row and we call them A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H for convenience.

Now let me count them.
A-1, B-2, D-3, E-4, F-5, G –6, H –7 (I have purposely miss out C.)
And declare that there are 7 persons.

Now let me recount them
A-1, B-2, C-3, D-4,5, E-6, F-7, G-8, H-9
(I have purposely counted fast and these is no coordination between my reciting and my pointing.)

What was wrong with both the methods?

Reciting vs. Counting and One-to-One Correspondence

What was wrong with both the methods discussed in the Activity?

In fact I was “reciting” numbers in the correct sequence. But I was not counting.
I was not coordinating the reciting with pointing at each person to be counted.
I was not maintaining one-to-one correspondence.

Most counting done by children in schools actually is “reciting”
Children should always count doing a one-to-one correspondence.
For this purpose counting beads is an excellent exercise.
Each class can keep a collection of strings of different numbers of beads, such that teachers can easily identify the number of beads in the strings by just looking at them. These strings can be given to students to count and if the child can tell the correct number of beads then the teacher automatically knows that the child can count correctly.

Contributed by S Sundaram

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