Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 12 seconds

Deep Lessons from Playing with Numbers

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 12 seconds

This is a light post about play, but a deep post about meaning and authority and control. Take it as you wish 🙂

Yesterday at the session I facilitated (awesome because of the participants, not me, of course!), one guy in the audience, a math teacher, told this truly inspiring story:

He said he tried an experiment with two different groups of students, those who knew him well, those who didn’t. He tried to convince them that 2+2=5. In the first group, who knew him well, they were convinced. In the second group, who didn’t, they were not. After going through the exercise of trying to convince them, etc., he then explained that he was of course pulling their leg. An opening to a discussion of authority and how they should question previously held beliefs.

Isn’t that AWESOME? I told him that this one day, this one class, would hopefully leave a lasting impact on his students, that it won’t matter if they never ever meet another teacher who inspires questioning or challenging authority like that again… The point had been made, the seed had been planted.

And I have been thinking and saying for a while that we only need a couple of inspiring teachers in our lives – once our mind opens up, it’s on us, and we’ll find out way outside the hegemonic structures of the educational system and society as a whole.

I myself had a physics teacher who intentionally made mistakes in his working of problems, then asked us if he did it right. Once we caught on that he was tricking us, we started both to question him more often, and to concentrate more and NOT take notes in a rote manner. Omigosh he was amazing.

Another story was said privately by another participant, about how she could not get herself to memorize the times tables, how she taught herself another way, when she stared at it long enough to figure out a pattern. This resonated with me big-time. I remember i once got 7×8 wrong on a test. If i had understood the fundamental idea that 7×7+7 was exactly the same as 7×8 i could have derived it. Once i learned the concept of derivation (like properly, in college) i never learned anything by heart if i could derive it. Like i keep forgetting the exact way of calculating celsius to Fahrenheit but i know that 37 celsius is 98 fahrenheit (body temp) and that 0 celsius is 32 (ok that sounds like memorization but it’s hard to forget). Of course, i could derive it, or use the internet for a quick fix, but i usually just do a rough calculation to know if someone’s trying to say the weather is hot or cold 🙂

And now for the really fun part: an ice-breaker that I invented
I go into a session and i write this on the board 1+1>2

I ask participants to individually think of as many solutions to this problem as possible. Then we share, then we reflect in the purpose of the exercise… Depending on the objective of the actual session, it could relate to creativity, synergy, cooperation – all kinds of possible things 🙂

You wanna do this exercise yourself?

Give yourself a minute and do it…

And now here are some of the coolest responses i ever got

1. One man + one woman = several babies 🙂

2. Accountants who use excel tell you how you can make Excel truncate/round up a cell so that a number like 1.4 looks like 1 in the screen… Which means 1.4 +1.4 would produce 2.8 which rounds up to 3. The screen shows it as if it’s 1+1=3

3. Some ppl made direct relations with the concept of synergy

I still get some ppl who say, “but that’s impossible” – then they see everyone else in rge room working hard on ideas and they open up and give it a try 🙂

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