A lot of life can feel like its all about getting the “right” answer. When we take a test, interview for a job, or raise our hand to answer a question in church, it often seems like there’s one answer that everyone is searching for. And whoever figures out what that answer is gets labeled as “the smart one.”
But what if giving the wrong answer was the right thing to do? What if it actually stretches you and opens up new possibilities?
Pepper (11) constantly reminds me of this potential.
Recently, she came to show me the math that she’d been working on. (Life of Fred . . . I’ll get to blogging about that soon, I promise!)
Here are some of her questions and answers:
Q: What is the LCM of 8 and 10?
A: A really big number.
Q: Last week, you had $250. Then you spent 3/5 of your money on a new bike. How much money do you have now?
A: A lot less than I had before!
Q: If you have 4/6 of a pie and 4/6 of a pie and 4/6 of a pie, how much do you have all together?
A: A really big stomachache.
Did she get the answers wrong? Technically, yes. And after I quit laughing, I told her as much. (She will, after all, have to correctly answer multiple choice tests to succeed in life.)
But I also told her why I thought her answers were great.
Uninhibited by the fear of getting the answer wrong (and–let’s be honest!–motivated by her lack of ability to actually answer the question), she found “wrong” answers that were right. They were creative, imaginative, and playful.
These are traits that I want to encourage in my kids. Being open to multiple “right” answers creates the space for innovation. It’s how people discover new worlds, solve “unsolveable” problems, and invent the impossible.
Next time I’m faced with answering a question correctly, I hope I can answer as mindfully as she did. I’d like to think that someday I might be an innovator, too!