Europeans do things differently. We know that. The simplest things. How they hold their silverware, the clothes they wear, they even drink alcohol unapologetically. But there is one thing that they do differently that just fascinates me: the way they teach kids to ride a bike.
Us, and them, we both take different approaches, and they are not just mechanically, but philosophically different.
We have chosen to throw the whole bicycle riding problem at the child. The balance, the steering, and also the pedaling. Because of the overwhelming complexity, we then attach what we call “training wheels”, which try to -very poorly- at least take care of the balance.
We approach this in a way where basically we know that the child is going to be very incompetent at it at first. We just assume that there is no other way to do it, and that the child just has to put up with it. We add the training wheels merely because we wouldn’t have enough bandaids for their wounds until they learn.
Europeans take a different approach. They have come up with a way, where the regular walking experience -which the child already has mastered at this age- is augmented, allowing the child to glide and coast without effort. It allows them also to sit if they become tired. It becomes really fun if they can find a downslope. But importantly enough, if they feel they are going to topple, they can just plant their feet firmly on the ground, back to something that they already know how to do.
European training bicycles look just like a regular bike, but with the seat at a comfortable height where the kid can reach the ground, and one important MISSING piece: the pedals. Obviously, this can make them even cheaper than our solution!
That’s right, the European training bike is designed for kids to basically “walk” with them, and then when they can get enough momentum, coast with them. It is in those brief moments, that learning to ride, to balance, happens. But it also happens in pure joy. By the way, there is even a name for this in the Motorcycle circle, this is what is called a “power walk”.
One approach compensates and adds “aid”, the other one removes complexity and phases things out.
What does this tell us about our cultures? Is this yet another example of the so said “live to work/work to live” dichotomy? Can we shift from our mindset of “gotta do the work”, “some things in life are just hard”, “no pain, no gain”; to a more joyful experience where we build our strengths but also live life in the meanwhile?
How do you lead through life? Do you mostly chose drudgery or joy?
Picture credits: a mashup of shots from Pexels from G Drama and Tatiana Syrikova. For more on copyright and image attribution, please go HERE.