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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Power of the Mind

"Tita, does the glass have holes in it?"
I still very much remember this question asked by my then 5 year old niece 14 years ago. How do I answer the curiosity of the child? Do I simply feed her information or use her question to train the mind to think? Either way, whether I will give her the answer right away or let her find out the answer will sure make her more informed but it is the latter that allows us to be more comfortable with the thinking process. So, instead of providing her the answer, I grabbed that moment to teach her to think about thinking and to learn about learning.

I responded to her question by another question, to see where she was coming from when she asked the question.

Me: What made you ask if the glass has holes in it?
5-yr old niece: Because there is water in the side of the glass, earlier there was none. Where did the water come from?
Me: So, you think the water comes from inside and seeped outside?
5-yr old niece: Where else it could come from?

My 4-yr old nephew was listening to our conversation, and got excited with the question as well. He joined the conversation by asking:

4-yr old nephew: Yes, tita, where did the water come from? How come lolo's glass does not have water in the sides while all ours have?
Me: Wow, I like how you both observe, think, and ask! Do you know you are formulating hypothesis and already starting the scientific method? Instead of answering your questions, can we have some fun finding where the water came from?
Niece and Nephew: Exciting, how?
Me: First, let us try to go back to Steph's first question. Does the glass have holes in it? How do you think can you verify that question? Or what is your first answer to that question?
Niece and nephew (after pondering and conferencing): We do not think the glass have holes in it since not all glass show having water on the sides. The cold glass collects water on the side, while the warm glass doesn't.

Me: you want to verify that so you can change the "do not think to do not believe"?
They: Yes, let us have two same glass containers, let us put on one cold water and the other one lukewarm water. We'll see what happens.
Me: But how will you know if the water moved from inside to outside of the glass?
They ( after pondering): The water level will go down, so we will use marker to verify if after a while one of the water level goes down.
Me: GREAT, do you know you are actually creating your own experiment? So proud of both of you.

After a while, they saw the cold glass start to collect water on the sides, while the warmer glass does not have water on the sides at all. They also observed there is no change in the level of water. So they both said,

5-yr old niece and 4-yr old nephew: The glasses do not have holes in them! Water came from somewhere else! But where?

After their conclusion to their little experiment, they started to have more questions, and have more explanations. Instead of me telling them about the phase changes in water, they were able to explain on their own that there is water vapor in air that we can not see, and when it hits a cold glass, the water vapor condenses to liquid allowing us to see. Our conversation did not end in these two glasses of water, but it extended to air, clouds, rain, ice and of course water. After that, I asked my 5-yr old niece to read water cycle to her younger brother and sister. Now, 14 years after, both of them are pursuing Science and Engineering Degrees in University of the Philippines- Diliman and expecting to have Latin honors when they graduate. Both are looking forward into a career in research in Science and Engineering.

Oftentimes, in our world, we are so excited to answer the question of a child that we forget to teach them the process of thinking. Maybe we jump right away to giving the answer because of our excitement, or maybe because we fear they would think we do not know. How about holding your response and use their questions as a teaching to learn moment? Allow the kids to explore, formulate their own thinking and process early so they do not give up on problem solving, and in the process they own and celebrate what they learn. It is easier to hand information to someone, in fact, we can just even ask them to read and be informed, but are we using the full power of our mind if we skip the "thinking about thinking" part?

Making our decisions on how we teach our kids the thinking and learning process is almost the same thing as making decision where to get our education. My late mom used to tell us before that it is not the school that will define our success, it is us! How many schools really teach us to think and learning instead of simply giving us second hand information? How many schools really give us enough opprtunities to sharpen our minds to harness the mind's full potential and power? Some people who may have less education because of lesser opprtunities in life actually makes smarter decisions than those who are very well informed or very well educated. Though they may not have gone to formal school, but they never undermine the power of the mind to think, analyze, create, and innovate! That is why some people who wanted to continue their learning while still closely in touch with reality choose Online Degree Programs. These days, online education offers a lot of courses that includes also online degree programs in science. And with the increasing cost of education, it is also very helpful to get an extra support through http://www.waldenu.edu .

Let not only your feet and eyes wander and explore, allow your mind to run farther than where your feet and eyes bring you. When you tap on the power of your mind, we get to simplify a lot of things for us because we understand better the world and the nature around us. Find your education and make it grow. 

4 comments:

  1. thank you so much for sharing Betchai...i have so many "what do i answer this child" moments with my kiddos...your nieces and nephews are so lucky to have a "wondertita"....i wish you could one sweet day have a long scientfic discussion with Francis and Roel...:-)

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  2. by the way, those glass photos are making me thirsty here hehehehe,

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  3. Not really Christianity is identical in every possible way to Mithra Christos, right down to the Vatican being built on the main Mithratic cathedral in Rome. The two religions are identical.

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  4. Whoaw, what a nice conversation you had with your niece and nephew... loved how you addressed their questions too !

    I am seeing more and more of this online education, may work out for some and may not with others, but nonetheless education is becoming more available and accessible especially to working people like us.

    The power of mind .... thanks for sharing this beautiful post Beth !!!

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