A Puzzling Class Obmission

I was an undergraduate at Caltech, which is located in southern California in the city of Pasadena. This meant that when I went home for the holidays, I would have to drive ten hours north to my home in Yreka, California (by the way, the San Francisco bay area is NOT Northern California!) Along the way I would often stop to pick up my friend Luis who was going to school in Berkeley. Even from Berkeley the drive to Yreka is about five hours. So what would we do during this long drive? Puzzles. Riddles. Brain teasers. Five hours of brain busting fun! And on the way back: five more hours of brain busting fun! Which got me thinking the other day: why aren’t there classes in puzzles and games? I mean I have no doubt that doing these teasers, even at my advanced age, is good for my brain. Actually, come to think of it, especially at my advanced age! It seems kind of strange to me that such an important tool for keeping your brain sharp is so completely (at least as far as I’ve seen) ignored by higher education. I’m not sure what can be done about this puzzling obmission from education, but certainly it would be excellent to teach a class in puzzles, brain teasers, and games. Plus there is the added benefit that it might increase your chances of getting hired at a hedge fund 😉

8 Replies to “A Puzzling Class Obmission”

  1. During my second university term I took a geometry class taught by a riddle loving professor who was quite a treat. In one of the first lectures, to explain proofs by induction, he used this riddle as an example. Very different from your usual series sum, very much more enjoyable!

  2. My department has several times run freshman seminars centered around puzzle solving. From what I’ve heard about them (not having run one myself) they seem to be a success — enjoyed by the students and helpful in getting them thinking about problem solving more generally.

  3. MIT has a class on solving math puzzles.
    It’s for freshmen, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

  4. 1. Happy Birthday
    2. I drove through Yreka yesterday and thought of you.
    Wow, there sure is lot of California north of the Bay Area!! I didn’t do any puzzles but sang loud and off-key to 80s heavy metal 🙂

  5. I’ve partially developed a board game to use in introductory physics and am toying with modifying a computer game for such purposes.
    Also, in my brand-new Forensic Physics class, I’m using cards from the game MindTrap II as part of the course.

  6. I just came back from a road trip from Illinois to Oklahoma. We made it through the entire deck of Trivial Pursuit questions (we didn’t actually play on the board). Then we started dabbling in metaphysics, as in “what is a machine?” and “what is art?”

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