In Tamil, Puthir means mystery or at a slightly lower level, a puzzle.
From the combinatorics of Archimedes’ Stomachion to the deceitful simplicity of Tangrams to the the delightful tamil riddles, puzzles are the earliest manifestation of the human endeavor to equate thoughtfulness to joyfulness.
Puzzles are designed for a unique learning experience. The experience of struggling through a difficult problem and solving it by breaking it down into smaller problems by questioning the premises and assumptions. They are one of the first pedagogical innovations in inquiry based learning.
They also embody scientific thinking and the deeper quest that forms the source of learning. You seek evidence through questioning until you are convinced that you have discovered the truth.
The joy of solving problems, together ¶
We love puzzles. We named our educational initiative Puthir for an important reason. By challenging the audience, a puzzle respects their intellect. It doesn’t educate through direct instruction, rather it presents a problem with sufficient motivators and waypoints for its audience to wade through and eventually discover the solution. Their learning through that puzzle is their accomplishment.
At Puthir, we encourage children to create puzzles that their peers solve, create games that they play with others and create their own rules for pre-existing games. What happens after is magical. Breakroom WordSearch evolved from this rich 5 year tradition that has nourished over 100 children with critical thinking and joyful learning.
A COVID birth ¶
When COVID forced us to shutdown our gorgeous, amorphous physical center, our youngest members were the most impacted. A place of learning as close to home ceased to exist overnight. We tried to replicate the experience through synchronous and asynchronous interactions with limited success.
Lack of peer interaction, lack of gratifying feedback, lack of physicality were all key factors that limited our success. We could never match the “feeling of Puthir” that was imprinted in their minds.
6 years back we walked a path - from technologists to educators. Armed with better understanding and forced by the pandemic, we decided to walk back our path.
Breakroom WordSearch is our solution to bring this rich tradition of problem solving together to a larger audience with as much physicality, positive & safe interaction as possible.
A new genre ¶
Is it a word game? Is it a puzzle? Is it a social network for children? Is it for teachers? Is it for parents and families? Is it for schools? Can it be used for homework?
When a game allows you to create, it can take the form that its audience desires. There are puzzles created by children that delve into morse-code, Fibonacci series, transcending the design goals of the creators and even its name.
We have created free sample lesson plans and guidance for teachers and parents on how to use Breakroom WordSearch as a learning tool.
With Breakroom WordSearch, we have come close to replicating the “feeling of Puthir”. We will bring more games and activities enjoyed by a select group of children to everyone in the coming months. As we lay our foundations for a post-pandemic model-school and a curriculum that focuses on student leadership building on our research, we hope that our digital offerings provide a way for Puthir to reach more children and educators.
Breakroom WordSearch is available on Apple App Store and Google Play store. If you are an educator or a school administrator, reach out to us through this form. If you are an un-schooling or homeschooling parent, we’d love to hear from you: Email us.