A teacher teaching Maths to seven-year-old Arnav asked him, “If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?
“Within a few seconds Arnav replied confidently, “Four!”
The dismayed teacher was expecting an effortless correct answer (three). She was disappointed. “Maybe the child did not listen properly,” she thought. She repeated, “Arnav, listen carefully.. If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?” Arnav had seen the disappointment on his teacher’s face. He calculated again on his fingers. But within him he was also searching for the answer that will make the teacher happy. His search for the answer was not for the correct one, but the one that will make his teacher happy. This time hesitatingly he replied, “Four.”
The disappointment stayed on the teacher’s face. She remembered that Arnav liked strawberries. She thought maybe he doesn’t like apples and that is making him loose focus. This time with an exaggerated excitement and twinkling in her eyes she asked, “If I give you one strawberry and one strawberry and one strawberry, then how many you will have?” Seeing the teacher happy, young Arnav calculated on his fingers again.
There was no pressure on him, but a little on the teacher. She wanted her new approach to succeed. With a hesitating smile young Arnav enquired, “Three?”
The teacher now had a victorious smile. Her approach had succeeded. She wanted to congratulate herself. But one last thing remained.
Once again she asked him, “Now if I give you one apple and one apple and one more apple how many will you have?”
Promptly Arnav answered, “Four!”
The teacher was aghast. “How Arnav, how?” she demanded in a little stern and irritated voice. In a voice that was low and hesitating young Arnav replied, “Because I already have one apple in my bag.”
Moral: “When someone gives you an answer that is different from what you expect, don’t think they are wrong. There may be an angle that you have not understood at all. You will have to listen and understand, but never listen with a predetermined notion. Most of the times, we do not try to understand the view of the other person and we find them wrong, but in reality it is just the matter of giving other person a chance to explain.”