Why The Puzzle School?

Posted on August 7, 2015


I recently received some feedback that The Puzzle School was not a good name. I detailed that feedback here: Frivolous and Ambitious – Is The Puzzle School Name Worth It?

I wanted to write out my thoughts on why I like the name.

At its core The Puzzle School is about enjoying the process. The process of learning, the process of building and creating, the process of achieving and living the life you imagine.

You don’t do a puzzle because the outcome is valuable, you do it because the process itself is interesting and challenging. The process is one of developing and testing hypotheses, iterating on your ideas based on feedback you receive and progressing in a nonlinear path toward your goal.

This process is reflected in many places, from the scientific method (science) to the growth mindset (education) to the lean startup (entrepreneurship). It is a distinctly human process. No matter what a person does there is always a process of iteration and responding to feedback. Even something as simple as walking is an exercise in responding to feedback and making constant adjustments so that you don’t trip.

The Puzzle School is also about leveraging this process to build the best school. With an iterative mindset The Puzzle School should always be adopting new ideas, looking to validate or invalidate them along with the students. This process takes the risks associated with new ideas, the fact any new idea may not work well, and flips it around. Every experiment becomes a lesson in iterative development. Students have an opportunity to practice reflecting on something and providing feedback. Simultaneously this process puts students in control, treating them as the consumer of their own education and listening to their honest feedback in order to improve the tools, activities, and environment through which they learn.

These skills will be enormously valuable to students as they face the real world and need to figure out how to achieve the goals that are important to them. It will encourage them to approach their goals in the same iterative fashion as they approached their learning, always testing their ideas and seeking feedback while not being discouraged by temporary setbacks. A student who masters these skills will be very resilient in the face of future challenges and capable of achieving a successful life.

This is largely why I like the name. When I think about my daughters I want them to be confident in their abilities such that they can achieve the life they want, what ever that is. If they truly enjoy the process of learning and building and feel comfortable coming up with ideas and testing them, listening honestly to feedback and iterating, and not being discouraged by setbacks, then I think they will be in a great position to create what ever life they want. This is what The Puzzle School means to me.