Three Blind Mice
Ten years or so ago our family went to Park City Utah for a few days. We found a shop full of the whimsical art of Brian Andreas. My family presented me with one of these little gems, entitled 3 Blind Mice, for my birthday. The artwork depicts a brightly colored cat on a piano looking up at three equally brightly colored mice (of the non-technological variety).
The text is about trying to teach a cat to play 3 Blind Mice on the piano. The Dad thinks failure was due to the cat’s “tin ear”. But, the child thinks it was because the cat “kept looking around for the blind mice the whole time & never gave it her full attention.”
I can think of quite a few blind mice that crop up in my work. One of my pet peeves is a game or puzzle where the directions or rules are so complicated that the student (and sometimes the teacher) loses all track of whatever concept or skill is being reinforced. Also rans include pieces with too many elements introduced or reinforced together, theory work that uses tricks to get answers and doesn’t tie new concepts back to previous ones (or, for that matter, set up future concepts in early work), and pictures or words that have nothing to do with the work at hand.
I keep the drawing propped on the desk where I plan lessons & workshops, write, and study. It reminds me to make sure I am keeping to the point and not distracting my students or readers with too much information, or too many tasks, or goals at once. It also reminds me to look carefully at the materials I choose for each student. If I can clearly help them understand the goal of each practice step during the lesson, they will be less likely to keep looking around for those proverbial blind mIce when they are practicing on their own.