Slow is evil

I was having a conversation with a student yesterday:

“You know, this problem took me 15 whole minutes to finish.”

I smiled, “Fifteen whole minutes?”

“For one problem,”  she replied.

“You are going to be really disappointed when you get into the next class.”

People like speed.   Face it, we like quick and easy.    And there is a certain virtue to things being easy.   But not always.

Too often I think people mistake “simple and easy” for “good”.    Things of worth often take time and effort.   If nothing else, a little effort and patience makes us value lessons more.    By the way, this is a  psychologically documented fact.   For whatever reason people will value what they work for more.

What is it about a slow process is evil?    Well, for one thing it actually takes thought.   People want to act on either on instinct or with minimal effort… but it often takes concerted effort as well as hours of practice to get there… which is excruciating for many people (and the real reason why so many people say “I hate ______”).    And of course, there is also the paradox of practicing those skills:   slow is fast.   Attention to detail keeps you from making mistakes.

Yes… I’m going to make you take your time.   I’m a math tease.   I’ll tantalize you with math skills, then I’ll make you work for them.

I love my job.


(I also love my friends.   Conversation around the table tonight included “you know, there aren’t any kids books on brain-eating amoebas?”)


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