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Fulbright scholar

“Why is it dark?” Meri, my three year old daughter asked as we walked back from her nursery hand in hand.

“Because it’s five o’clock and the sun’s gone down.”


“Because in winter the sun goes down early.”


Now, I thought about spinning a cock and bull yarn about how the horses that pull the chariot that the sun sits in decided that they wanted to get home early because they wanted to catch the start of the six ‘o clock news but thought-better not. I had, to my shame, convinced my naïve nephew that this was the case some 20 years earlier but decided that if you’re going to mess with a child’s head, best not make it your own.

“Because in winter the earth tilts on its axis away from the sun if you live where we live.”

“Why?”, came the inevitable, inexorable response.

My knowledge of astronomy and the geography of the earth was sadly exhausted. This put me in a difficult situation because as every dad knows, one of our key jobs is to be the fountain of all knowledge and to have a ready answer to anything.

Feeling somewhat inadequate, I had to answer, “It just does.”


I just muttered something incoherent under my breath and decided to change the subject.

“Meri, did you know that there is a management theory? It’s called the ‘five whys’ – or something like that. Daddy studied it a long time ago when daddy used to do things like management training. It says that in order to get to the real root cause of a problem and to really get the right solution, you have to ask ‘why’ five times. Given that you’re three years old and you’re going through that ‘why’ phase, I figure that makes you a real management guru. In fact I’m going to send off your application to Harvard business school for an MBA as the youngest Fulbright scholar in history. What do you make of them apples?”

Meri looked up at me with her big brown eyes and cocked her head absorbing what I had told her.

“Why?” she asked. 



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