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What learning looks like

When I lived in Borivali, my maid’s daughter once asked me if a magnifying glass could really burn paper. She knew the correct answer, but was having trouble believing it. I didn’t have a magnifying glass, so I showed her a video on youtube of how it happens. I told her it was true. That I had burned paper before.

She asked if paper would burn if she held a magnifying glass over it too. That vulnerable wondering if she was worthy of the miracle. If she was clever enough to make it happen.

I had a murderous moment over how teachers are able to reduce science to blind faith with making children memorize what they can easily find out. Learning is like a chain reaction. Thoughts spark new thoughts, data keeps coming in, connecting with other things, leading to new things to find out or know. The amount of learning experience can bring cannot be duplicated with mere information. And it was such a small thing!

It was absurd. A magnifying glass doesn’t care who holds it and holding it correctly is hardly rocket science.

We spent the entire afternoon watching all sorts of videos of magnifying glasses burning paper on youtube and other things till I felt her physically relax. Then she knew that paper burns when you focus light on it with a magnifying glass. Till then she only knew the correct answer.

We went one better. I got her a magnifying glass in a couple of days, and sent it home with the maid, who reported a few days later that she was burning everything she could lay hands on, including a broken mug (which didn’t burn, thankfully) and just like that, she had found out that some materials burn, and others don’t. I wasn’t even around.

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