The Rubik’s Cube
January 3, 2017
By Danielle Marzinske, AmeriCorps Promise Fellow serving at Open World Learning Community (SPPS)
It took me roughly one long and frustrating week to learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube and weeks more to learn how to solve it without looking at a screen of directions. Since I sometimes get fidgety, I keep my cube on my desk at work. This proves to be an endless delight to many who drop by my room. Some who already know how to solve it show-off their skills to me, and those who don’t just play around with it. But no one has made a sincere effort to learn how to solve it.
No one but L.
L has been a frequent visitor in my room whenever she wants to ditch class, needs help on an assignment, or is too frustrated to carry on with the day. One day when she was venting to me about classes and some personal issues, she picked up my Rubik’s cube and asked me how to solve it. I told her the first step was to solve the white side. To my surprise she started figuring out the white face, piece by piece. She wasn’t afraid to ask questions and did not give up when she was stumped. She would drop in periodically to further her progress almost every day for a few minutes then go to class.
After only about 2-3 hours total spread across 5 school days (I took roughly 10 hours over the course of 7 days), L finished the cube. Now I can tell that L doesn’t always think she is smart or good at school. But as I praised her progress on the Rubik’s cube, I saw a small genuine smile that showed just how proud she was of her accomplishment. L told me that she is asking her mom for a Rubik’s cube for a Christmas present. I hope that she gets it and uses it as a reminder that she is a smart girl.
[From “Voices From the Field: Reflections from Minnesota Alliance With Youth’s AmeriCorps Members.” Winter 2017.]