You know you’re an adult when: you wake up, the sun is shining and your first thought is ‘good day to get the washing dry.’
We’ve had wooden blocks for quite a while now, but it has only been in the last month or so that the little fella has had an interest in them. We spend a lot of time building houses for his more favoured toy: the matchbox car.
There’s nothing like play as a way to learn. I teach computer skills as part of an adult literacy programme and I encourage the students to ‘have a play’ because I truly believe that playing, experimenting, exploring, making mistakes and finding ways to fix them is the best way to learn.
And playing with the wooden blocks, I have been learning (or rather, relearning) some important life lessons that I knew as a kid, but had forgotten as an adult.
Defying the law of gravity
I get the law of gravity. The little fella, he’s still learning. Geometry, tessellation, balance, weight… I know things. So I find myself saying:
‘That’s too big, that block won’t fit, it won’t go there, the tower will fall over.’
‘That won’t work.’
But more often than not, the block isn’t too big, it will fit and the tower doesn’t topple.
Not knowing, the little fella attempts the seemingly impossible. To him, it’s no big deal, he didn’t think it was impossible in the first place. For me, I discover that the things I think are impossible aren’t always so.
As adults, we don’t try new things because we fear failure. We’ve convinced ourselves, rationally or otherwise, that it won’t work. That we can’t do it. That it’s impossible (you can’t defy the laws of gravity, after all).
Or can you?
Here’s a few things I learned: if the block is not too far off the centre of gravity, the tower won’t topple. If you place a block on the opposite edge to the first (pictured above), it acts as a counterweight and again, the tower won’t topple.
If you use superglue, then you can bet your bottom dollar that tower isn’t going to fall over.
Experimentation and failure is an essential part of creativity, learning and growth. Having a go, risking failure and learning from our attempts is an important part of life, no matter what age we are.
Lesson 1: Don’t let fear of failure prevent you from trying.
What’s now, not what’s next
What life is this if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
William Henry Davies
The little fella and I have two very different reactions to placing one block on top of another. My instant reaction is ‘what’s next? Grab another block, we’ll build it higher.’
His reaction, on the other hand, is to sit and marvel at what he’s already built. It is only after he is completely pleased with himself (and everyone else has appreciated his work) that he moves onto building the tower higher.
How often do you find yourself thinking about the next thing rather than appreciating what you have now, in this moment? I find myself doing it all the time.
We accomplish a goal and we’re straight onto the next one.
We sit still in the present, but our minds are in the future, thinking about dinner and getting the washing in and checking facebook.
We strive to fit more into our day, rather than taking the time to do less things more thoroughly.
We spend our lives thinking about what we don’t have or what we haven’t done, rather than appreciating the things we have.
Lesson 2: Stop and appreciate what you already have now before moving onto the next thing.
As adults, we can benefit from bringing back some of the wonder, the fun, the play, the creativity and the leisure time we had as children. We can learn again to take pleasure in the process as well as the outcome.