Frivolous and Ambitious – Is The Puzzle School Name Worth It?

Posted on August 5, 2015


“I don’t want my kid going to school to do puzzles all day, there is more to life than just puzzles.”

“Are they just playing with toys all day?”

These are some of the concerns I imagine people expressing when they hear the name, The Puzzle School.

Even if someone did understand how puzzles reflect a design process for achieving a goal they may still say something like:

“I don’t want my child to be overly focused on achieving goals. There is more to life than just goals”.

So people may be just as concerned that The Puzzle School is both a frivolous environment as well as an overly ambitious, goal-oriented environment.

I think the frivolous concern can be addressed simply by describing how many professional people, from engineer to writers to artists to politicians, all may say their work “feels like a puzzle” at times. This is what The Puzzle School is meant to capture; the idea that learning and building can both follow an iterative, nonlinear process driven by hypotheses and feedback, and that that process can be very enjoyable as you recognize the progress you are making toward your goal.

The ambitious concern, that there is more to life than achieving goals, is a bit trickier. The goal of the school is to help students think about their goals (and inspire them toward goals) as well as support them as they explore those goals and learn from and about the iterative process along the way. That doesn’t mean that every minute someone spends at The Puzzle School is focused on achieving a goal as anyone would burn out if they were exclusively focused on their goals and there are many other activities in life that we want to engage in that are not necessarily goal-oriented, such as simply spending time with friends. The longer term puzzle of how someone wants to spend their life will include these other activities and The Puzzle School wants to support them along with other goals.

Still I can see how these interpretations may make people hesitant to send their child to The Puzzle School or may make other educators hesitant to support The Puzzle School.

Interestingly I don’t think these issues will come to light with an after school or summer school program, so I think those provide opportunities to build trust around The Puzzle School and dispel any misconceptions. Still I doubt it will ever completely remove those misconceptions, so the question remains, do these challenges outweigh the benefits of a clearly communicated pedagogical perspective that is reflective of how humans naturally learn and build and achieve goals?