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Color Aberration

We had gone thru a page or two of notes. The usual routine: daily topic at the top, underlined with a straight, black line; objectives next, with the word “objectives” underlined with a squiggly line; same with “vocabulary” next. And so on. To the more observant of the kids, there’s a pattern to these notes. Of course, this is not an accident. 

Brianna (not her real name) is an observant kid. She notices patterns. And shapes. And colors. I suppose that she depends on them as beacons of familiarity in the daily stream of new math.

“Mr. Hasan,” Brianna said, “you forgot to underline Example 1 with a squiggly line.”

I looked at my notes. Indeed I had forgotten the usual squiggly line. I looked back at her with wide eyes.

“You’re right,” I said. And I picked up a blue pen and added the squiggly lines. 

“Nooooo,” she wailed in mock pain. You see, I never underline in blue. Always in black. She knows this. And I knew she knows.

I handed the page to her (because we were about to move to a new page, and she had asked for the page so that she could copy down the last few lines, complete with the correct colors — meticulousness has its costs).

And so class continued. But there’s this…

When the bell rang and she handed that page back, I noticed that my blue squiggly line under Example 1 had been squiggled over — in black. The had fixed my color aberration.