Sep 19, 2012
Comments Off on It’s A Simple Algorithm

It’s A Simple Algorithm

He walks into the classroom mid-way through solving the Rubik’s cube. Before he’s through the door, it’s solved. Within seconds he’s messed it up again and then spins the cube to start solving. Within a couple minutes, it’s solved again.


This guy is your typical applied level student. Interesting, nuanced, at points disengaged and most of all, not meant to sit in a classroom doing worksheets all day. He’s easily distracted in class, struggles with writing, and yet, as this huge untapped potential for learning. He doesn’t seem himself as someone school is designed for and that makes perfect sense.

“How did you do that?”

“It’s a simple algorithm.”

“Where did you learn it?”

“On Youtube,” he says non-chalantly as he shows me his Rubik’s cube belt buckle. “My fastest is 1minute and 6 seconds.”


“But, I’m trying to get better.”

He sits down, hardly listening to the school announcements, and whips through it a couple more times. Complete it, mess it up, complete it again.

I ask him to teach me. He says, “You can just go watch some Youtube videos and it will be much easier.” But I sense a learning opportunity. For me and for him.

I sit down, he stands over my shoulder and starts the process. In the position of student, I quickly become discouraged. I say, “I’ll never be able to do this…” and “This is too hard…” and “I’ll never remember this,” but he just calmly tells me to keep trying. He stands over my shoulder for something like seven minutes until I shrugged it off. “Never mind, we’ve got other things to do.”

It’s easy to say that the student who shrug off school, don’t know what’s good for them. Or paint the need for today in the light of their future. But the reality is, it is hard to learn. It is hard to be put into a situation that is difficult, all day, every day, and still maintain your enthusiasm for showing up.

I’ll be back, I’ll eventually (my goal is by the end of the semester) be able to solve the Rubik’s cube, but I see myself as learner. But I don’t have to do it everyday. Just chipping away.

How often do we take the same skill and make students do it over and over, day after day? Maybe it’s time we diversify. Maybe it’s time we allow students to determine when they need a break.

I mean, after all, it’s a simple algorithm.

Comments are closed.

6 color styles available:

Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.