The Joy of Learning
Vrinda Loiwal

Vrinda, I thought I’d share this with you… A year ago, I was staying at a friends place in Gurgaon, and, it so happened that their 11 year old son was given an assignment by his teacher at school. The children were trying o understand physical space and the teacher had asked them to measure and draw up a plan of their room at home. This young gentleman went about the job quit purposefully, measure tape and all. Soon he was down right frustrated and upset, either the tape measure was too short or the markings on it thoroughly confused him. After watching him a while I went up to him… he explaing what he was trying to do. We had a brief discussion and we figured out that he may be better off using a graph sheet to draw on, he was able to break up the room into its objects and work out an approximate proportion between them so on and so forth. he got back to the job at hand with renewed vigour, but, his battle with the measure tape and all its markings was showing no signs of letting up. So, I asked him about a specific measurement he had written down - 3 feet 6 inches, stressing on the word feet, and what thought about how it came to be. Looking at his own foot, his face lit up as the idea dawned upon him. So, we thought , why not use his own two feet as the unit for measurement. He did not need the measure tape. Hie body was one. Foot, fingers, palm, span of his hand…. there was a moment of euphoria. Bt there were rules…. Ma’am said he had to write the measurements in feet and inches… I tried to make a joke off it, she did not specify “whose feet” but that did not go down well… after all there were rules. Some more discussions took place then it struck him, like the graph paper he could break down the unit of measurement to suite him. So we had an unit Tanveer’s feet : 9 inches, similarly he worked out the scale for his palm etc. Soon he was stomping about his room and had the plan made out quite quickly, with a little table on one side showing the Tanveer Foot measurement chart!

I haven’t had the chance of meeting him since. I would have loved to hear of his teacher’s response to his assignment.

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