## Tuesday, 12 November 2013

### Problem Solving

"All his life Klaus had believed that if you read enough books you could solve any problem, but now he wasn't so sure."
(Lemony Snicket)

So at the moment I am a little overloaded with information. I have entered into a subject this last month or so where I am required to learn coding for web design. I keep getting flash backs from high school maths class.

I used to get so worked up reading mathematical problems that my heart would beat faster, I could literally see the pulse in my eye and I would have to choke down tears brought on by the anxiety. My best friend in high school would pass me the answers secretly so I would pass the subject. She even let me copy all her homework. It wasn't that I didn't try. I remember putting equations up on my wall and writing notes and I even had a tutor for a while. I just couldn't conceptualise that which I could not see.

After about half way through this maths course I dropped the subject and took up an "easier" maths. It was called Maths in Society. I called in "Maths in Space".  A course for the space cadets like me. The "non bright ones". I passed this course - but only barely.

It wasn't that I wasn't bright.
In fact I think the concept of "brightness" is a dull one.

There are so many different learning styles and time frames for learning. And there are so many different kinds of intelligence. I am a kinaesthetic learner. I need to DO to learn. Then I back it up by doing again. And again. And again…. Repetition and experience.

So although my brain fills like it's about to explode with web code, I am trying to breathe deeply and remind myself that I will learn in my own time and in my own way. Coding is important in this digital age. But it's not my passion. And there are people who do have this passion. So lucky me that in the future should I need coding I will understand a little about how it all works and hand it over to the professionals so I can focus on my own passions with illustration and design.

I was thinking all of this over as I walked to the train station this morning as last night I was up late pouring over textbooks and trying to understand my homework in time for class today. And as the fates would have it a little sign from the universe prompted me to thinking about learning and problem solving in action. A man got on at my second stop. He was perhaps a few years older than me. Wearing an old style cap, knitted jumper and cardigan with big pockets, he was ordinary but just a little extraordinary.

But then…..

He promptly pulled a Rubik's Cube out of one of these pockets and began to twist and turn it with an intensity of one running an Olympic sprint. I was mesmerised by him. His focus and his commitment were palpable.  A few amused onlookers smiled. But he was oblivious to them. He was deep in the zone of problem solving. He stood the whole time right in front of me by the door which gave me a chance to really take in this man lost in the pursuit of his goal. At one point a bead of sweat rolled down his face. He pushed it aside in half a heart beat and continued to twist and turn with increasing fervour. He was a man on a mission. One and a half stations along (under five minutes), the jumble of colours suddenly matched up on all six sides.

He had done it. Problem solved. A calm overtook him. The train pulled up to another stopped. He let out a satisfied smile and exited the carriage.

We are all good at something. We all have those moments when our expertise is needed to solve problems. Maybe not Rubik's cubes, or mathematical ones. But seeing this man this morning reminded me to not compare my skills to others skills. Just to focus on the skills I have right here at hand. And to value what I CAN do. I got off at my station, went to coding class (yes, it was HARD!) but felt inwardly a lot calmer.

During the class, (In between taking web coding notes, asking the teacher questions and practising code on the computer) I did a little quick sketch of the Rubik's man. Sometimes multi tasking actually helps me focus. And tonight I have added a little colour to bring it to life.

Because that's what I do well: Colouring-in ;-)