It is the fourth lesson of the day and 20 minutes to go to lunch on a cold dull winters day in an inner city London school. As I’m teaching my year 11s, my phone vibrates in my pocket. I ignore the vibration and carry on teaching and the phone goes to voice mail. The phone vibrates again and this time I check the phone to see who is calling and it is the other half (my wife). I ignore it again and carry on teaching. It vibrates a third time and it is the wife again… now I start to feel anxious that something must have happened and it is important. So I set a task for the class, step outside the class feeling extremely worried and anxious. I call her back… ring ring…
Me: Hello, you called.
Wife: Yeah… something has happened!
Me: What is it?
Wife: I have just left work and as I started to drive the car alarm came on… then it got louder and louder!
Me: Erm (thinking to myself… I’m no car expert)… did you stop over to the side, switch the car off and re-start it?
Wife: Yeah, done that, but when I started again the alarm started again too.
Me: Well, I’m teaching at the moment, can’t do anything from here at the moment. Just drive home and when I get home I will take it to the mechanic.
Me: See you later, bye.
After I finish teaching the class during lunch I call her back.
Wife: Hi… (She starts to giggle).
Me: You got home with no issues?
Me: Is the car ok?
Wife: Yeah, everything is fine.
Me: What about the alarm?
Wife: (She starts to giggle louder…) It’s sorted.
Me: What was wrong with it?
Wife: My handbag was on the passenger car seat in the front and therefore the seat belt alarm was going on as the handbag was not wearing a seat belt.
Me: Did you not see a sign come up on the dashboard?
Wife: It did but I just didn’t realise.
At this point, my wife and I both burst into laughter.
By now, you’re probably wondering, “What does a story like this have to do with helping students improve their problem solving skills?”
Here’s the thing. Your kid’s ability to solve problems (even simple ones) isn’t always a reflection of their overall problem solving skills.
You see, though my wife is an excellent problem solver in her own right, even she failed to immediately connect the seatbelt signal she saw on the dashboard to the car alarm she heard. And while it’s true that people who are good at math are also usually good problem solvers, the reality is that WE don’t always think EVERYTHING through logically, step-by-step. After all, we are human and even the best and brightest among us sometimes have laughable moments like these.
And that’s OKAY.
I’m curious. When was a time that you had a laughable moment after realizing that you too overlooked something very simple? Share your story in the comment section. I’d love to see how I’m not the only one!
P.s. Share with others and bring a smile to the people you know on social media (Facebook, twitter etc.)