Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Thinking Outside the Box

I was trying to get dinner on the table with a five year old underfoot. Pulling out a worksheet, I read and memorized the short instructions and returned to the kitchen. I asked William to circle the items in each column that were above the others. Next, he was to cross out items below the others. When he told me he was done, I looked at the paper.

He had correctly circled the items above and crossed the items below, but it took me a moment to process that the middle objects were both circled and crossed out. This was, he explained because the flower, for example, was above the worm but below the cloud, so got both a circle and an "x".

I was amazed at his thinking beyond what was asked. Was this exceptional thinking? I looked in the back of the book (which I think is kind of amusing that they have answers for kindergarten worksheets, but thankful in this case), and in fact, they showed just the cloud and butterfly circled and the worm and log crossed out. They didn't think any further. Maybe I need to write them a letter.

This type of thinking reminds me of a time Anna, at about the same age, was asked on the Iowa Skills test which cloud of several was the smallest. She said that she couldn't answer the question. I pointed to the smallest (apparently to me) cloud. Anna responded that the cloud wasn't the smallest - it was just farther away. Sometimes, I'm just amazed at this type of early thinking and wonder how much of it is drummed out of us with the "right" answer.

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