Sometimes the Answer is More Obvious Than You Think

I saw this following math problem for a grade 1 admissions test to a school in Hong Kong on the site, 22Words, and I struggled to get it right away (I may have looked at the answer ahead of time).  Take 20 seconds to figure it out below.



How did it go? If you are like the majority of people that I had in my session today, you didn’t get it right away. But once you see the answer, it seems so obvious.

From 22 Words:

It’s upside down, so the answer is 87.

The numbers go 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91— but from right to left because it’s upside down.

Maybe as adults we’re just so used to things being straightforward whereas kids get more creative with their thought process, or maybe we’re all just dumber than a first grader — at least one from Hong Kong.

The one line in bold resonated with me.  Sometimes we say things like, “How do we get people to move forward?”, yet our approach is really along the lines of “tell them harder”.  The hope is if we keep looking and approaching a problem the same way, that eventually we will fix it, instead of trying to look at things differently.

What is often holding others back is not them, but us.  Our approach is usually the thing that people are struggling with, so we need to step back and see things in a different light.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. ” Albert Einstein

This puzzle was a nice little reminder that if we look at things in a different manner, the answer can sometimes be a lot simpler than we make it to be.

P.S. My wife figured it out in about 3 seconds because she said as a teacher, she is so used to the learning of her students upside-down. I am sure there are several lessons in that in itself.

Source: George Couros