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The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train

Time to read: Quicker than the book


The Girl on the Train

Last week I sat opposite a girl of about 4 years old, sitting next to her mum.

The younger lady was doing maths from an exercise book, with her mum helping her – and she was not just doing maths, she was adoring maths, reading and drawing.

She was such fun to watch, providing a loud, enthusiastic running commentary for each question. The question she started with was “If 3 rabbits are joined by 4 other rabbits, how many rabbits are there in total?”

And this is what she did – she actually drew each rabbit, individually – big ears and all – first of all the 3, then their 4 friends, then she ticked them off one by one until she literally shouted with excitement – “SEVEN RABBITS”. Mum said “well done.”

Then, onto the next animal question.

After a while I just had to say something, so I leaned across to mum.

“I hope you don’t mind my saying – your daughter is going to achieve anything she wants in life”

There was a pause – what have I done? I have spoken to a total stranger on a train!

Thankfully, Mum replied: “Thank you.”

Then her daughter looked at me and said “I am not very good at maths”.

I said: “Oh, you are very good, you are so enthusiastic, and you are certainly far better at maths than me”.

Then she got shy, put down her pencil and snuggled in to the safety of her mother’s cuddle.

I thought to myself: “That’s done it! Talking to strangers on a train and now look what’s happened, I’ve embarrassed a little girl, stopped her from doing what she was enjoying and the whole carriage seems to have gone very silent.”

So I sat back in silence.

Fortunately, Woking was only 5 minutes away. As we pulled in, I stood up, smiled across the table and said “goodbye”.

The mum politely replied the same, and I turned around to leave.

Just then, the young mathematician, communicator and artist said, very quietly, “goodbye, nice man.”

Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.

And I realised – to make others happy, be nice to others – to make yourself happy, be nice to others.

Even when you are in the quiet zone.
With my love and best wishes



4 Responses to The Girl on the Train

  1. Lovely post! -and indeed a great reflection that actually no words at all are required in maths learning or the understanding of maths. This has been proven by the fantastic work of Matthew Peterson, the Founder of ST Maths and The Mind Institute, illustrated here in his great TED Talk

    JiJi the penguin teaches the most important lesson of all

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