Charlotte’s Sudoku

The other night I was doing a Sudoku, and my two-year-old daughter Charlotte decided she wanted to help, as she always does at any time when I have a pen and paper she could steal.
So she bent over the paper concentrating very hard and a while later she threw her hands in the air and declared in her loudest voice, “I did it!!!”.
And sure enough, she had. Every single box was filled with a letter-like squiggle.
And isn’t this the most basic rule of Sudoku, when you really get down to it? Sure, the symbols in the boxes are supposed to be the digits from 1 to 9 and you’re supposed to have one of each in every column, row and box, but really if there’s not one symbol in every box, you just haven’t finished have you?
I was extremely impressed that she was able to figure out that rule just by watching me for a few minutes!
And, as usual, it made me think of my students. Often they latch on to one idea from their lectures and do their maths problems following that one idea, even though there are quite a few important details that make it actually work. But should I really be upset? They’ve picked out the most important idea and that in itself is impressive. Next time I’ll try my best to let them know how impressive it is before telling them how to be better.

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