Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Intersecting Interests

There are certain kinds of family interactions that I sort of wonder: how often does this happen in other households?

My five-year old son has been playing tonight with some whiteboard markers and an eraser I brought home from university. A few minutes ago, he plonked his whiteboard down beside me and asked: “Mummy? Can you please draw me a Venn diagram?”

Uh… sure?

So I drew two circles with some overlapping space. Next question: “Do you like puppies?”

Uh… yes?

“I like puppies too! How do you draw a puppy?”

I drew a puppy – having been directed to a marginal space on the whiteboard, not close to the Venn diagram. My son then painstakingly drew a puppy inside the intersecting space. He proceeded to ask whether I liked other things. If I liked them, and he didn’t, they went into the non-intersecting bit of my circle alone. If he liked them, and I didn’t, they went into the non-intersecting bit of his circle.

We did have a conversation about Venn diagrams a few days ago. I just hadn’t been expecting that the concept would percolate, and come up again in quite this form…

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5 responses to “Intersecting Interests

  1. Eric March 18, 2009 at 7:09 am

    My kids continually amaze me with stuff like what you describe. A lot of times we’ll have a conversation about something and they’ll seem to not really pay attention or be half-interested in it, but a few hours or days later they’ll demonstrate an amazing understanding of what we talked about and apply it to some completely different situation and in a new way. I find it amazingly inspiring that they put things–concepts, things–to use for their own purposes, and am starting to think one of the most important parts of parenthood is to encourage that, or at least do your best to not destroy that. Of course, school and work will do their best to kill it, but that’s later.

  2. N Pepperell March 18, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Hey Eric – Yeah, I agree completely with this:

    one of the most important parts of parenthood is to encourage that, or at least do your best to not destroy that

    I worry occasionally that my own interests skew things in a slightly nerdy direction… ;-) But it really is amazing to watch how quickly things get appropriated – how much things expand – how much of a sort of hunger there is for new concepts and new possibilities – it’s an amazing thing to watch…

  3. john April 4, 2009 at 8:18 am

    this is the highlight post of the night for me. Thanks. Our son Emile is only old enough to dazzle us with his reactions to, rather than actual commentary on, theory (ie., he doesn’t talk yet): his mum was reading to him from Avital Ronell and he replied: ‘blah blah blah’. Kids are smart eh, its only education that fucks us all up. Jx

  4. rob April 6, 2009 at 10:30 am

    “Kids are smart eh, its only education that fucks us all up”

    The name Emile was not chosen, I take it, simply because it sounded nice?

  5. N Pepperell April 6, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Hey folks – sorry to be so quiet around here lately – will eventually have time and life again…

    john – My favourite “theory moment” with my son is still the point where he grabbed a copy of Protestant Ethic and carried it to the corner of the room, and then sat there reading it out – letter by individual letter… Puts a whole other perspective on “close reading”…

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