Ist mnuha eanrtu ot tawn ot rgufei gnitsh tou.”
It’s a riddle. Can you figure it out?
For the past 14 years, I have had this phrase taped to the wall of my classroom. It is hand-painted in bright bold letters on a 15-foot banner. And without fail, everyone who enters my room asks:
Their age or education doesn’t matter; everyone gets sucked in by the banner. Some people scrunch their nose and start talking through it out loud. Others stare up into space, quietly puzzling it out in their head, with the occasional eye dart back to confirm their ideas, word by word. Almost everyone starts bouncing their index finger through the air, counting and rearranging the letters in the imaginary space between us and the banner.
Some people figure it out almost instantly. Would it surprise you to know that my quickest solve rates were often from fluent teenagers who were reluctant readers as children? My favourite solvers were ones who took months of revisiting it and then one day would yell out in the middle of class, “I figured it out!”
No matter how we do it or how long it takes us, there is one thing we all have in common:
“It’s human nature to want to figure things out.”