Closing Thoughts

Some closing reflections/musings on the ASSET Day Scholar Programme (in no particular order)...

Please do go through all the earlier posts before reading on to get a better picture and appreciate what is written below. Here is the first post; each post has a link to the next post.

Flipping the script

In most Indian schools and curricula, the final answer (especially in math and science) is what children are rewarded for as that is the easiest metric to evaluate. The thought process is looked at by asking children to write steps (in math) or explain their reasoning (in science) but I have observed that it is not emphasised as much as the final answer. When students get back their test papers in school, the focus is on the marks/grade they obtained and finding out what were the correct answers to questions that they got wrong.

In this course, I was upfront with the children about this fact and told them that we would do the reverse. I was far more interested in their thought process and approach to the puzzles than on their final solution. This emphasis was stressed on throughout our 7 hours together and was an element of the course that I discussed with the 30+ parents who spoke to me on the Open Day.

Consequently, the atmosphere established in the class was collaborative and not competitive. After all, there was absolutely nothing to be gained by "finishing first". In fact, I told them that I would be distinctly unimpressed if they tried to solve the puzzles in a rush to finish ahead of their classmates! 😛

Mistakes are great

Building on one of the points written at the top-left corner of the board in the above picture, another key element in the course was that the puzzles would be challenging and that I expected them to make mistakes and stumble along the way. That is why multiple copies of the same puzzle were provided. I wanted them to make mistakes and learn from them. At most schools, children are fearful of making mistakes as they feel they will either lose marks and/or be considered stupid and ridiculed. Getting them to break out of that mould during the course required constant support and encouragement from my side. A lot of the kids wanted to get things right on the first attempt and wanted their puzzle sheets to look neat and tidy. The Slitherlink (first puzzle in all the 3 classes) was inherently challenging and mistakes were expected. To show them that I was not immune to making mistakes, I shared anecdotes with the kids about the first time I tried solving these puzzles when I was younger and the struggles and errors that I had made along the way.

Making thinking visible

With each section, this was a challenge during the first puzzle. I explained to them that thinking takes place in their brain and one way to bring clarity to what one is thinking and why one is thinking that way is to try and articulate their approaches and reason why they opted for that approach. This was another reason why I encouraged partner work during the course - I wanted them to discuss their approaches with a peer and put down explanations in their Thought Book.

There were instances where a few children initially did not see value in writing in their Thought Book because they wanted to get down to solving the puzzle. At those times, I continued to emphasise that their thought process was more important than the final answer and showed them examples from their classmates' thought books to illustrate its importance. Over time, these children started engaging more proactively with the Thought Book and that was encouraging for me as a teacher. After all, I was trying out the idea of documenting thoughts and strategies for the first time and was curious/apprehensive about how my students would receive it. 😃

Parents see value

Over the course of 2-3 hours on the Open Day, the parent(s) of 31 children came up to speak to me either at our stall or after the certificate distribution ceremony. A number of them were interested in understanding how I conceptualised the course and the way forward for their child to continue developing their logical thinking skills. Some even wanted to know if I could offer a longer version of the course in which the children could get exposure to a wider variety of puzzles and strategies.

These conversations backed what I already believed i.e. logical thinking is an important life skill for children to learn. Using puzzles as a medium made it engaging and exciting for the children and the manner in which the course unfolded made for a supremely rewarding experience. 😄

Children are wonderful

I don't need much reminding about this fact - for me, the primary motivator for working in the education sector is children and the impact that I would like to make on their lives. Getting back to the classroom is a joy for me as I feel recharged around them. Can't you feel the energy radiating out from these photos? 😊

I had a fulfilling time teaching and writing about our experiences at the ASSET Day Scholar Programme. I hope you had as good a time reading about it! Comments, observations and suggestions on any of the posts in the series are welcome as they will serve to improve future offerings of the course. 😃


  1. Wow such a nice and well planned activity. Can really feel the excitement of children and looks like them were super immersed in the activity. Indian schools should definitely adopt such fun activities to keep the children engaged in the subject and to ensure that they have fun while learning.

    1. The entire course, albeit short, was a wonderful experience for me - from the planning to the execution. :-)


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