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How Many Apples Can You Count?

February 19, 2009 | 56,860 views

apple, childA teacher teaching math to 7-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 lose 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 will you 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."

The Moral of the Story?

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.

It is so important to keep an open mind in life, and that includes when it comes to your health. Simply believing the status quo, without searching for a deeper explanation, will often leave you with a superficial solution and an unrealistic slant on reality. For instance, all of the following may seem true at face value, but if you dig deeper you’ll find that they are actually myths.


So the next time a friend, colleague or even your doctor offers you an explanation that doesn’t seem quite right, remember Arnav and his apples, and open your mind to seeing life in a different light.

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