Friday, June 21, 2019

playing with my balls

I'm currently doing research to create a five-session curriculum for kids who will be learning life-skills for success. One thing I'd like to teach is sticktoitiveness, i.e., determination. It occurred to me that the old "stack three golf balls" challenge might be a good way to do this. I'd never done this before, but I was eager to try, so I lumbered over to the nearby Daiso and bought a three-pack of Volvik brand golf balls. (The name reminds me of a brand of European spring water—Volvic—with which I became familiar while living in France and Switzerland.)

Stacking was frustrating at first, but it was just a matter of getting a feel for the thing. Stacking two balls proved absurdly easy; I was able to accomplish that within minutes of opening the Volvik box. But getting that third ball on top was a goddamn challenge, so I rewatched a YouTube video about this very problem, and I saw there was a trick to it: you have to stabilize the second ball while gently placing the third ball on top. It's a delicate procedure, a bit like defusing a bomb, but without the life-or-death stakes. In the end, success was mine.

9:39 p.m.:

And again at 9:49 p.m.:

(The golf balls are out of focus because I was trying to focus on the computer screen's clock, which shows 9:49 p.m.)

Once I got the hang of it, I knew the feat would be easily repeatable. I just did it again today, on my first try, at around 2 p.m. This isn't a skill that will bring me fame, fortune, and sexy women, but it does bring a bizarre sense of accomplishment.

The danger, of course, is that in class, some congenitally klutzy student might never be able to stack the golf balls in the allotted time, thus leading to frustration and a feeling of defeat. Not the lesson we want to be teaching. Is this exercise too risky for young, fragile egos? I'd like to think not: first, I don't think the students' egos will be that fragile. Second, there are other life-lessons to be learned while the exercise is going on: the need for focus, the value of encouragement (assuming I make this into a team-versus-team competition), etc.

Apparently, the world record for golf-ball-stacking is nine.

1 comment:

John Mac said...

Playing with your balls in the classroom? I'm triggered! Where's my safe space?

Seriously though, I do see this leading to frustration for those not blessed with a reasonable amount of manual dexterity. It seems a lesson in "sticktoitiveness" presumes the actual to perform the task. Hmm, but then again, I was never good at math either. Maybe because I gave up trying.

Good luck with this project.