In elementary school, one of my favorite classroom tasks was “logic grid puzzles.” In these brain-busters, we would be given the first and last names of four or five people, and then something like the names of their dogs and the various prizes they might have won in some grooming competition. Then, given a set of clues like this…
- “Mr. Bombadil, whose dog did not win first place, was sitting next to Sally when she found out that Ms. Mochachino’s dog had dropped out of competition after vomiting all over the Fluffy the Labradoodle.”
… we had to figure out who won, whose dog belonged to whom, and so forth. Such torture boxes undoubtedly aimed to develop pretty strong critical thinking skills, and potentially some creative thinking (another highly prized attribute). In contrast, if I were to look at the homework of our Ecuadorian students and guess which skills their school system rewarded most highly, I would guess 1) uniformity, and 2) obedience. With tasks like “color this page yellow” or “write the numbers from 1000 to 10,000 in multiples of 10” or “copy ¿? one hundred times,” it seems that if these tykes are going to think outside of the box, it’ll be in spite of their education, not because of it.
Therefore, I’m hoping to translate “logic grid puzzles” for the kids in San Fransisco, Ecuador, straight from South Highlands Elementary school in Shreveport, Louisiana. Perhaps:
- “Maria, Byron, Emelia and Jorge are all planning on going to college, but can’t decide which. Four universities in Quito – UDLA, ESPE, Catolica, and San Fransisco – all specialize in different areas: Engineering, Arts, Literature, and English. Can you help our friends figure out where to go to college?”
Other creative thinking and critical thinking activity suggestions welcome.