By Ruth (but then, you would have guessed that very quickly...)
Part 1 – Playing Cards
I use playing cards in class to divide students into groups. It works really well because there are enough for all my students and groups of four usually work pretty well. Enough to make it a little interesting but still small enough that everybody needs to talk.
The first time I start passing out cards, they get excited. Fifteen times later, I don’t even have to explain what to do. Sometimes they groan if they are those students who don’t like a) standing up, b) talking to anyone besides their best friend, c) talking, and/or d) being in class. Mostly though, they enjoy the few moments of utter chaos as they yell at each other and wave their cards around and make their way to the other side of the room.
Since I use them in about every other class, the cards get pretty beat up. I collected the cards back the other day and noticed someone had drawn their own hearts on the ten of hearts. Sometimes they get lost, too. The other day a sophomore came up to me after class all embarrassed and said, “Last week I accidentally took the seven card because I put it in my pocket. Can I bring it back to you tomorrow?” Just before my class the next day, the girl knocked hesitantly on the classroom door. When I opened it she whispered, “I come to bring you the card.” Turning her body away so the other students couldn’t see she slipped the card into my hand then ducked away. It was funny. It really wasn’t a problem, but she was so embarrassed.
Part 2 – The Colored Number Phenomenon
This is related but you probably won’t be able to tell it at first.
I have this thing where I see numbers as colors. I didn’t consciously realize it until high school or college. Or rather, I should say, I didn’t realize that everyone else doesn’t see numbers as colors. This year I was delighted to discover this is actually a legitimate phenomenon called “synesthesia.” Wikipedia calls it “a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.” Makes sense, huh?
Thinking of numbers as being inherently colored is one of the more common forms. Some people also see numbers, days of the week, or months of the year as having certain personalities. I do that too, with numbers. One of the most interesting forms, in my opinion, is associating a certain taste with different sounds or words. I don’t do that, so I don’t really know how it works. There is no “standard” for color-number association, it varies by person, however it is consistent with a person over time. So here is what it looks like for me:
Number - Color - Personality
1 – White
2 – Light blue - youthful
3- Yellow – sweet and girly (and named Lillian…that I can’t explain)
4 – Purple – quiet and shy
5 – Green – friendly and outgoing
6 – Dark blue – motherly, caring
8 – Maroon - responsible, organized
9 – Brown – kinda boring and not very easy to get along with
I’m not sure that one has a personality. It’s so good and quiet it just blends into the woodwork, if you know what I mean. Some of the personalities are more related to the colors, but some purely numerical. Who doesn’t like a good 5? Fits in anywhere, works well with others. 9, on the other hand, just has to make thing difficult. Some of the personalities are definitely related to the colored pencils I used to play with as a child. The light blue was short and therefore one of the younger ones that dark blue helped to take care of. Brown was practically unused and didn’t fit in very well. The purple pencil was about eight years old and probably the one I identified with most. I did have real toys, I really did, but I think my colored pencils had more personalities than my dolls ever did.
Ok, now that I’ve thoroughly lost you, let’s bring this back around to the beginning in a nice segue.
Part 3: The Segue
So the other day in class I had passed out the cards and students were looking for their other group members. I came upon a student with a three of hearts and said, “Ok, well you have a yellow so let’s look for the others.” Then I laughed at myself because while I confuse them in my head sometimes, I rarely confuse colors and numbers out loud unless I have recently been explaining this phenomenon to someone. It didn’t really matter though. It went right over the student’s head into the box of “things my foreign teacher says that I don’t understand.” It’s a big box.
And there you go. It is sort of related. At least in my head, it was related. But then, so are colors and numbers and personalities and a lot of things that make no sense to other people. So probably it's not related at all. Just an attempt to make the things in my head seem connected to the outside world. I wonder what ever happened to that colored pencil family?