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Brian, the theme of your guandry reminded me of a situation many years ago. My high school chess team was at the Nationals and a famous GrandMaster was giving a lecture. He mentioned that his five year old was learning how to play chess. When the opportunity for "question and answer" came up, I asked him how he overcame the huge cap between International Grand Master and his five year old in terms of learning to play chess.

His reply was there is no way I can convey how to play chess from my perspective. The gap is too huge. However, all I ever asked of him was "Why did you do that?" I didn't care what his answer was or tried to critique it. The important thing was to cultivate a reason (any reason).

At first his responses were mostly "I don't know." or "I just felt like it." However, he eventually began to give simple justifications which gradual improved. The important thing was for him to find reasons for doing things without any anticipation of criticism or suggestions. Motivating a very young novice to think requires subtle nurturing without inhibition.

"Why?" with no judgemental impact can be a powerful motivator.
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