There is a man who lives in my neighborhood who walks his dog around the same time as I do each morning. This guy virtually drags his poor dog down the block at break-neck speed. It makes me so sad for his poor little companion. It reminds me of a cartoon I once saw of a man exactly like this one and the thought bubble coming out of the dog’s head said,
“Whose walk is this anyway?”
I shouldn’t have been surprised then when I saw this same man dragging his two young children to school a couple of weeks ago. He had each one by the hand and he was power walking them down the block exactly the same way he walks his dog. These little boys are probably 4 and 6 (they may even be 3 and 5). Suffice to say, they are little. I started looking for this family to see if it was a one-time occurrence (he walks the dog like this every single day) or a one-off bad day. Yeah, he walks his little guys to school like this every single day.
It got me thinking about how I might approach a parent in my class or program who rushed his children around like this. I considered the “math angle” and wrote my older son and father-in-law to get some “math perspective”.
The question is this. If a child’s legs are half as long as an adult’s and an adult can walk at a pace of 4 miles per hour (15 minute miles) how fast will a child have to walk to keep pace with the adult?
My father-in-law responded by telling me it was a trick question. The child has to walk at exactly the same pace in order to keep up (15 minute miles or 4 miles per hour). Duh!
I never said I was smart.
So, I rephrased the question to ask what I really wanted to know. “How much harder does a child have to work to maintain the same pace as an adult whose legs are twice as long?”
The answer of course, is twice as hard.
Now imagine that an 11-foot tall super human is walking you to work. This super human’s legs are twice as long as yours. Try keeping pace with this super human. You might as well be hitched to the back of a station wagon moving about 10 miles per hour. I guarantee that you will fall, trip, become exhausted, frustrated, and upset. There is also a really good chance that you will get hurt.
When you next see a grown-up dragging a child across or down the street, consider encouraging that person to slow down and allow their child to walk at a safe pace; one that makes sense for the length of his legs, and the natural speed of his stride.