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The New Shoes

Published December 15, 2000
Countries: None
Age Levels: 10 and up

Once a man needed a new pair of shoes.  This man was very good at math.  He knew that in order to get shoes that fit correctly, it would be necessary to measure his shoe size properly.

The man knew how to measure very accurately.  He also knew how to draw digrams that were very accurate.  So, before he went to the marketplace, he drew a very detailed picture of his feet on a piece of paper.  He carefully measured his feet, and he wrote the exact dimensions of each foot on the diagrams.  Then before leaving the house, like a good mathemetician, he rechecked his figures. 

It was a very long way from the man's home to the market where he intended to buy the shoes.  It was past mid-day when the man arrived at the market.  When he reached the stall where shoes were being sold, the man realized that he had forgotten to bring ther paper that he had so carefully written his measurements on.  He turned around and walked all the way back home to get it.

It was nearly sunset when the man arrived back at the market.  There he found the market was closing, and the shoemaker had packed up all of his shoes to take them home.

"Foolish man," the shoemaker told the man when he was asked to unpack his wares to make a sale.  Why did you not just try on the shoes in my store?  Why did you need to go home and get your diagrams?"

The man hung his head shamefully.  "I guessed I only believed there was one way to solve my problem.  I should have thought to check with others for another solution that might have worked as well or better than my own."

Note to Math Teachers:  Always encourage students to explain how they arrive at an answer.  Then ask your class if others have a different way to solve the same problem.  In our rapidly changing world that is so filled with problems, we need divergent thinkers who can work together finding many possible solutions to today's problems.

Source of Story - Story Arts Online by Heather Forest sites the original source to be Han Fei.  Thanks to Heather and to Han Fei for preserving this tale.

Dr. Mike Lockett is an educator, storyteller and children's author from Normal, IL. Dr. Lockett has given more than 4000 programs across the USA and as far away as eastern Asia. Contact Mike by writing to in order to book him for a storytelling program or young authors program or to inquire about purchasing his books and CDs. More stories and information about storytelling can be found at