“Jacky, could you give this one a try?” The teacher asked. Jacky nodded. “I’ll try.” She said and quickly started with the equation that the teacher wrote down. One by one the teacher wrote down the steps that Jacky took. A few lines later she was stuck. “Hmm,” She said aloud. “I don’t think I can… finish it from here.” She said.
“That’s alright. Anyone else that can pick up from this point and help Jacky out?” the teacher asked. None of the other students raised their hands or said anything. “Nobody?” The teacher asked again. “I don’t think it’s possible.” One of the students said softly.
“Why not?” The teacher asked. “I can’t come up with any possible ways to solve this equation.” She answered. “What would you do?” One of the other students asked the teacher. The teacher looked at the board. “It’s unsolvable.” He answered after a brief moment of silence.
Only the foolish begin twisting and turning the layers like a madman without thinking and observing it first.
The Answer is a Rubik Cube
The class was stunned. “Wait what?” Jacky asked. “So you tell me that you gave me the assignment of solving an unsolvable equation?” She asked quite furiously. The rest of the class started to discuss this possible setup from the teacher. Chaos broke out. The teacher stayed quiet. He knew this was going to happen.
“No.” He softly said. Instantly the entire classroom went quiet. “No,” He repeated. “I didn’t set you up. It is fixable. But there is a much more valuable lesson here.” He said. He grabbed a Rubik Cube from his desk. “Let’s say this is the equation.” The teacher began, holding up the Rubik Cube.
“How would you guys solve this?” He looked around.
“By beginning to twist the layers.” One of the students said. The teacher nodded. “I see, that’s exactly what Jacky did just now. Not just Jacky, she is just an example here. All of you made the same mistake on your last test. Can you guess what it is?” He asked. None of the students answered.
“You see kids, I am not trying to make you feel dumb. Especially you Jacky. You followed the steps as I taught you, I am proud of you. Yet sometimes it’s not about strictly following the steps. This Rubik Cube right here, can’t be solved by quickly twisting and turning the different layers. It won’t work.”
“But isn’t that the entire point of the Rubik Cube?” One of the students said. “To twist and turn the layers until all colors end up on the same side?” He added.
“That is indeed the point of the game.” The teacher said. “But only the foolish begin twisting and turning the layers like a madman without thinking and observing it first. You see, to solve this Rubik’s Cube you first need to have a sense of where every color is and need to understand how to twist the different layers to get the squares all on the same side. You can’t just begin turning the layers hoping that at one point everything will align. You need observance, understanding, and methodical action to solve this puzzle.” The teacher was quiet for a moment.
The wise move forward with observation and understanding. The foolish move forward with force and speed.
The 3 Steps
“And what does this have to do with our tests, and this equation?” Jacky asked still a bit mad at her teacher. “Everything. It’s how you approach these equations. You don’t just begin, without first observing it. You begin by going through different plans in your mind. If you just begin, like you begin twisting the different layers. You’ll end up nowhere. Sometimes you’re lucky and you solve it, but most of the time you dig your own grave. If you begin slowly. By observing the equation, trying to understand it before making a move, you are much more likely to solve it.” The teacher put down the Rubiks Cube.
“You see kids.” He continued. “The wise move forward with observation and understanding. The foolish move forward with force and speed. The wise might be slower at first, but they will solve the challenges at hand by understanding what they did to solve them, therefore having the knowledge to tackle upcoming challenges easier. The foolish only use up energy in their attempt to solve the challenges, and if they do they have no clue how they did it. Therefore unable to repeat it, yet again losing more time if they come across a similar challenge. This isn’t just a lesson to use with mathematics. It’s one to remember in life. If you want to solve a Rubik’s cube you don’t bash it, or turn its parts hard and vigorously. You move methodically and slowly at first. You observe, learn, understand, then move forward. The more you do this the quicker you can do it, yet you cannot ask yourself to do it quickly the first time, that would only make solving the cube harder. If there is anything I hope you take from this class it isn’t the mathematical equations we solve, it is the lesson underneath it all. To observe, understand, and move forward accordingly to that knowledge. Don’t be foolish and begin moving without the slightest of understanding. If you ever face a challenge in your life, both within yourself, and outside of yourself remember those three steps. Observe, understand, move forward accordingly. It is how you’ll be able to solve any challenge you face.”
The bell rang. “Thank you.” The teacher said and bowed. “You have been incredible students to teach.” He said. And one by one the students left. He only hoped he inspired one of them with the wisdom he just shared with them. That would be enough.