I recently reported on the first couple of Winston Breen books. And then Joe Fendel asked me if I'd read the Gollywhomper Games book. Apparently, puzzle-based young adult fiction is a thing? Back in my day, we had Ellen Raskin, but nowadays there seems to be a bunch of books using puzzles to mold young minds. Can we get systematic about this? Sure we can. Or at least there's a book Puzzle-Based Learning with a premise along those lines. There are classic puzzles. Can we use them to teach new ways of thinking?
- "There's a frog in a well..." could be a good coda for a simple arithmetic assignment.
- The ten-hat variant of the Prisoners and Hats puzzle could fit into a beginning programming course as folks learn about the Magic of Binary Numbers.
- The bird-flying between locomotives puzzle has a little velocity-distance calculation in it.
You might say, "These puzzles are overly complex. Presenting a frog in a well is a heckuva way to ask someone to calculate 31-3." This book points out that there's a real-world skill here: receiving a weird problem, peeling away the extra stuff, finding the tractable problem underneath. The book makes a good case. Bonus points for mentioning Edward de Bono right after the U2 puzzle (which, as presented in the book, does not mention U2 or its members).