September 21st, 2010
Personally, I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. – Winston Churchill
52NEW ~ Week 2 ~ Learn how to solve the Rubik’s Cube
Meet my childhood nemesis, The Rubik’s Cube!
This so-called little bastion of peace has haunted me for years. According to RubiksCube.com , it was the brainchild of Erno Rubik who invented it in Budapest when I was all of 10 years old. His plan was to develop a “working model to help explain three-dimensional geometry.”
In my 10-year-old eyes he was developing a working model to explain Susan’s stupidity to the world.
Here is some background: Academics were never my thing and I had the challenge of learning issues to deal with every day at school. It made for some frustrating times for both my family and me. While it was obvious to many that I was not “stupid”, I certainly had challenges and it was tough for teachers to determine if I was lazy or just didn’t “get it.”
I can tell you this… I didn’t “get” the Rubik’s Cube… AT ALL.
Time and time again, this torture device seemed to amplify to the world that my brain didn’t work like everyone else’s did and my chances of success were going to be limited.
I’m happy to report life didn’t turn out that way, but that feeling has been attached to that cube ever since.
I can hear you say, “Susan, I couldn’t do it either!” In my 10-year-old mind, I was the only one that couldn’t. To me, if you had at least “tried” you should have been able to figure it out. That little voice inside my mind just kept saying, “Look at you! You are trying and all you do is fail.”
This brings us to 2010 and I try to calm down that child in my mind and focus on how I am going to finally learn to solve the Rubik’s Cube!
It’s interesting, in my research I read about some teachers using the Rubik’s cube not only to teach math concepts including algorithms and enumeration, but also focus, following directions, memorization, sequencing, problem solving, critical thinking, and perseverance.
I CAN follow directions, I CAN problem solve, and I CAN use perseverance.
So, first I made sure that it could be done and my friend Lori demonstrated. She hadn’t picked up a cube in years, but was pretty sure she could do it in less than 10 minutes. She actually managed to do it in 2:10. I learned two fundamental things from Lori. 1) It could be done! And 2) The centre cubes didn’t move and that’s how you knew which colour was on which side. (So many were shocked I didn’t know that!)
After covering the basics, Lori tried to explain about corner pieces. I panicked. That 10-year-old’s voice started singing, “This is the song that never ends” loudly in my brain and just wouldn’t stop… I had to take a breather. Somewhere in my head I did hear Lori talking about being good at spatial learning. Spatial? Hmmm…Goggle “spatial learning” for more info.
Turns out I don’t learn that way.
Next up – look for more help. I’m a big believer in seeking answers from places other than your brain. Mostly because my brain isn’t usually where I find answers!
I love the Internet.
And the answers are all there! The Rubik’s Cube is all about algorithms, which answers.com tells me is:
A step-by-step problem-solving procedure, especially an established, recursive computational procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps.
Evidently, someone else figured them out, wrote them down and will share!
A chorus of angels sang… HALLELUJAH!
On my own I can master getting the white side done, and the “T’s” required on the proper colour sides.
I “learned” that as long as I follow the algorithm directions from that point, I can COMPLETE the Rubik’s Cube!
Do you hear that sound??
Neither do I. The 10-year-old finally stopped with that insipid song!
Here’s the deal. Did I manage to memorize all the algorithms required? No. But do I feel like I succeeded? YES!
I set out to finish the Rubik’s Cube with my own hands. Even though following those directions was tough and I had a VERY hard time getting messages from my mind to my hands, I did it. Not once, but 5 times.
I herby declare VICTORY over the Rubik’s Cube!
Tangible lessons learned:
Next time Steve tells me the large heavy piece of furniture won’t fit where I want it to go, I will believe him and not make him move it into the spot to prove it.
I will never develop an “inner” sense of direction. (That spatial stuff again.)
The centerpieces on the Rubik’s Cube don’t move.
I am not a spatial learner AT ALL.
The “song that never ends” can be silenced.
Most importantly, that childlike piece of me no longer feels inadequate.
The trick to learning on this 52NEW was revisiting the question of HOW I learn, removing the emotion of past failures, allowing myself to move at the speed I required to learn the steps, and harnessing the power that came from combining my brain power with that of others.
Perhaps you are getting frustrated with someone in your life who just doesn’t seem to be “getting” something that you do. Maybe you can apply what I have learned in this week’s 52NEW to make someone a little more confident as they challenge the world.