Children have incredible minds and usually find it easier to “think outside of the box” simply because they don’t put much stock in limits to what is and isn’t possible yet. When Bret Turner asked a group of 5 and 6-year-olds for their best answers to this riddle, he suddenly felt that the real answer wasn’t good enough.
He began getting answers from the group of “all stuff,” and “NOT everything,” and even “nothingthing.” Until, finally, the answer “death,” silenced the class.
…and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the class that I didn’t want to tell them that actually the answer is the letter e, which just seemed so banal in the moment,” he wrote.
When the correct answer was finally revealed, the students were not impressed. They had been introduced, briefly, to a topic that made them think about life as they knew it, and somehow getting an elementary-level answer just wasn’t what they were expecting.
Maybe they thought that the answer would reveal some deeper truth, or perhaps they thought it might be funny. Instead, the logical answer replaced their hopes, and the encounter left Turner at a loss for words.
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