Timed Tests or Puzzle Solving
How many times do we have to take timed tests in school? Most tests are timed. Consequently, it has been reinforced in most of us that we are in a hurry. In a society with deadlines, this makes sense. However, I’ve noticed when doing puzzles, this was my overriding concern. Hurry up! Finish! Go faster!
I suspect that there are a lot of people that don’t stick to finishing a puzzle simply because they are in a hurry, eager for the answer, or think it is too hard. I know that if I slow down, I do better, but even more surprising is that I often solve a difficult puzzle when I give it an extra effort, even if I don’t think I have the knowledge. Let it rest, then come back to it.
This past week I visited my daughter’s classroom and read various signs around the room, urging the students to persistence. The students were encouraged to ask specific questions rather than saying “I don’t get it.” They were reminded that problems might seem hard because thinking is hard, and some problems require lots of thinking. They were encouraged not to be cursory nor cowardly in tackling problems.
Think how eager we are to tell children what the right answer is if they begin to struggle. Consider what the future would hold if we had more “tests” wherein the goal was to solve a problem rather than finish in a certain amount of time. We might be surprised what we can do.