I used to work with public school special needs children. It was way back when, before personal computers, let alone i-Pads at everyone’s desk. It was also the days of plentitude in California, when every element of education was free – even the paper and pencils. When a child was balky and no reinforcement would overcome a lack of initiative and effort, I sometimes challenged them to try pick up a new pencil that I placed on the table between us.

The child would blink, look at me, look at the pencil, look at me – and then pick it up.


I would then smile and say, “There is no ‘try’ is there? You have the pencil in your hand. You did it! Let’s do more.