A balancing act

We have a log cabin set that our kids play with, building different kinds of log cabins or other structures or sometimes combining it with other construction sets, giving form to their imaginations. There are three kinds in this set – small, medium and long.

This morning after breakfast, Aniket as usual put away the dishes I was washing and suddenly he was gone. I finished doing the dishes and moved on to other things in the kitchen. Suddenly he called out and asked me to come and see what he has done. He was very excited! When I went to him, I saw that he had built a crude balance with the logs from the log cabin set – more like a see saw that we see in the playground. He had placed one long log on one side and 7 small ones on the other. He told me that 7 small ones weigh the same as 1 long one. So if he adds one more long one to it, the other side has to have 14 small ones. I was still so amazed (still am) on multiple levels…that I didn’t say much and smiled. He said “See how I’m using my multiplication tables”. I was not really convinced it was just about the multiplication tables and I returned to my work. Anyway, a few minutes later he called out again. This time, he had a metal box on one side and 2 medium ones and 4 small ones on the other, balancing well.

I’m still processing this incident. The learning and meta-learning in this instance is immense. What prompted him to build the balance? How did it occur to him to build the balance? What gave him the idea that 1 long one could weigh the same as several small ones? The questions are endless…I don’t know what his inspiration was to build a balance and try out all these things..I don’t know what he learnt from this activity…But that IS the beauty of it all, I don’t need to know. I don’t need to know. I don’t need to know. I don’t need to know.

8 thoughts on “A balancing act”

  1. How old is Aniket? It is amazing to see how children think and process their knowledge and come up with something so profound.
    A lot of thought processing and analysis goes into what they come up. You are right we should just quit analyzing and just be amused.

  2. I’m going to put those last four lines up on my wall to remember — “I don’t need to know” — the emphasis on each word in turn adds yet more nuance every time I read them. So many would have ended this story differently — an exhortation about the benefits of child-led learning, etc — but the wisdom of your point feels much deeper and wider. Thank you.

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