I was in the middle of a presentation to three hundred middle schoolers when a boy’s arm shot straight up so desperately that I thought it would separate from his body. I stopped, midsentence. Clearly this child had something incredibly important to ask and I just couldn’t ignore him.
Me: What’s your question?
Boy: Are you Xbox or Playstation? (I froze, realizing the magnitude of the question. Three hundred boys looked at me with bated breath.)
Me: I refuse to answer that.
Me: If I tell you, you’ll make an assessment of my character and intelligence.
Boy (mulling over my response): Fair enough.
Looking back on that moment, I don’t know how I knew that this was one of the better responses I could have given. But immediately after the presentation, I had three realizations: 1) I was very grateful to the teaching gods that somehow I answered that question correctly; 2) acknowledging the importance of his question was meaningful to the other students; and 3) I’d better educate myself much more about gaming as soon as possible.
But why was the question and my answer so important?