Tuesday, January 30, 2007


As a project lead of a 14 month old toddler you get to answer a lot of questions. While most of them start with “What is …” and end up with a little finger pointing at the red fire truck – they are in no way superfluous. Your consistent answers will let your child know that red items are frequently called red something. He will start to understand what a fire truck is. Fire trucks come in many shapes and sizes but they are still called fire trucks (and toddlers have an uncanny ability to grasp the Aristotelian model of fire trucks!).
Yet there’s another important piece of information hidden within your answers. It’s a tiny little common sense rule that object rarely change their names. If something is called a fire truck it will probably still be called a fire truck tomorrow. Now you may think that is obvious but it really isn’t. It’s a common sense rule you picked up in your formative years. And that is what common sense is. A collection of tiny rules you never think about but use everyday. You might call them meta rules, as they are frequently used as rules about rules. They are kinda like David asking a “What is …” question while pointing at his pointing finger. What is this thing I use to find out about things?
It is your first meta question David and I’m glad I was there to answer it.

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