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Brevity

The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop. Mark Twain

Whenever I run short of life occurrences that provide literary motivation, I check with Mark Twain and he always has something that clangs loudly for me. For fear of sounding as if I am complaining, I really like this truism because it’s one of the most charming aspects of children.

If you are asking questions of children, it’s very common to receive one or two-word answers. I don’t know. Yes. No. I’m not sure. We didn’t study that. The more interesting answers are when you succeed at striking a nerve for which a child has passion.

For example, I have experienced three or four-minute dissertations about playing with a younger sibling. He does this and then he does that. Sometimes we pretend that we are this and he loves it when I tickle him or let him play with one of my special toys.

Another triggering event is talking about travel. One of those questions that I often ask is, “What are you planning on doing for this vacation?” The inquiry elicits only one of two responses. Either it’s a short (economical) answer such as, “I’m going to play with my cousin [brother, sister]” or “We’re going away” to somewhere.

In the first case, brevity takes over and I leave it to my imagination as to what playing will be. In the event that the child is traveling, I’ll get who’s going, method of transportation, who will be waiting at the destination and what they will do upon arrival.

My conclusion is that education-related information is delivered quickly and expediently while personal data is likely to be more plentiful and descriptive. This causes me to wonder about the true goals of education. Are they to generate nearly-automatic responses (how much is two times seven or what’s the capital of Colorado) or to encourage self-expression and detail? The convenient answer is probably “both.”  My guess is that I’ll leave the first half to full-time teachers and promote the self-expression. Shalom.

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