Solve the Problem

Solve the problem
Solve the problem

This problem was inspired by an advertisement I saw in Wired Magazine. (Modified for this blog post). When I first saw the page, I realized I was looking at a puzzle, but I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. Then I “got” what was going on and I figured it out.

The key to solving a problem often lies with finding a pattern. That’s a very human skill. Even newborns can soon recognize faces. As Jon Medina has said “We…are terrific pattern matchers, constantly assessing our environment for similarities, and we tend to remember things if we think we have seen them before.”

It’s a pity we don’t do a better job of teaching pattern recognition in school. Uncovering an underlying pattern is essential to constructing meaning. In school we typically “teach” patterns to students as “facts,” rather than ask students to discover the pattern for themselves. Of course this strips the activity of its real value as a learning strategy, and turns into just another thing to memorize. Asking students to file some pre-selected information into a graphic organizer isn’t analysis – it’s just moving stuff around. True analysis involves doing the challenging work of trying to make sense of information. Powerful learning occurs when students have to answer questions like - Is this a sequence? Is it cause and effect? How would I organize this material into categories? Could I explain my system to someone else?   Exactly the type of skills that are demanded by the new Common Core standards.

Enough commentary, have you solved the problem yet?

Credit: Inspired by CenturyLink ad in Wired Magazine, October 2011 p. 148

5 thoughts on “Solve the Problem

  1. Reply
    Michelle Reagan - October 4, 2011

    Yes Michelle, you offered the first comment with the correct answer. But I’m taking the answer out of your comment because I want others to experience the joy of solving the problem. ~ Peter

  2. Reply
    Mike Anderson - October 4, 2011

    I like this. Using coded messages could be a great way to activate prior knowledge and get students’ using their pattern recognition skills.

    The message, which I’m glad wasn’t posted, is some useful advice for teaching pattern recognition.
    -Mike

  3. Reply
    Shawntel Allen - October 5, 2011

    Got it….had to walk away from it for a minute, though. Hhhhmmm…and, that was a great message to me as a teacher; walk away for a minute. =)

  4. Reply
    pia - December 12, 2011

    Ahhh! Got the message! *pat self in the back*

  5. Reply
    Peter Pappas - December 12, 2011

    Pia,
    Bravo!
    ~ Peter

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