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Balloon Stomp Game Raises Interesting Question

Robert Roberts writes about a 4th grade class in which the teacher introduced a game called The Balloon Stomp. A balloon was tied to every child's ankle, and the object of the game was to pop everybody else's balloon while protecting your own. The last person with an intact balloon would win the game. The concept was if I win, then you lose.

The 9-year-olds entered into the spirit of things vigorously. When the battle was over in a matter of seconds, only one balloon was still inflated. And, of course, its owner was the most disliked kid in the room.

A second class came later that day and was asked to play the same game—only this time the class was filled with developmentally disabled children. The Balloon Stomp proceeded quite differently. When the instructions were given, it seemed the only idea they grasped was that the balloons were supposed to be popped. But instead of fighting each other off, the children got the idea that they were supposed to help one another pop balloons. They formed a kind of balloon-stomp co-op.

One little girl knelt down and held her balloon carefully in place—like the holder for a field goal kicker—while a little boy stomped it flat and then knelt down and held his balloon still for her to stomp.

On and on it went, all the children helping one another in the great stomp. When the very last balloon was popped, everybody cheered—and everybody won.

The question you have to ask is this: "Who got the game right, and who got the game wrong?"

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