I have the most interesting class in the world.
Working with students who are primarily gifted offers me unique experiences everyday. They have very focused interests, but each one is interested in something else. Planning learning activities that will appeal to them, then, provides me with a daily challenge.
Today, however, I have found something that has kept them engaged for going on 30 minutes now. They are solving problems like the following:
KEY + KEY=OPEN (I haven't figured out how to stack this vertically on the blog, but you get the idea.) Each letter stands for the one of the numbers, 0, 1, 3, 4, 6 or 7. They had no problem when the numbers were given to them to choose from, but when we gave then NO + NO = YES and no number choices we had a blast figuring out all the combinations. Finally I had them create their own and had their peers figure them.
It has been interesting, especially when they bring them up for me to solve and I have to show them their thinking errors. Suddenly a big lightbulb appears over their heads, and they go scurrying back to their seats to try again. I love to see that they aren't frustrated to the point of giving up. That they want to keep trying and figuring until they get it right.
We can learn a lot from these students. Sometimes we think we have it all planned just right; we know we have it all worked out. Then we try out our idea or we share it with someone we trust. That is when errors begin to show up in our thinking. We don't have to give up our ideas or plans. We just need to go back to the drawing board and figure out where we went wrong.
I know my students would be totally bored out of their gourds if, in an effort to protect their "fragile" psyches, I made the way easy for them. Likewise, as adults, if life is just handed to you on a silver platter, there is no growth, no improvement. We become stagnant, stale, our brains even atrophy. I don't want that for my life. I know you don't either. That is why I teach. There is certainly never a dull moment, and I can guarantee that things hardly ever turn out the way I planned. But that's what makes my job interesting. And that's why there are erasers on pencils.