Saturday, March 7, 2015

Teaching solving (Puzzle No. 3,357)

Hot’s commentary this week is right on point vis a vis the challenge of a good puzzle.  At first it should look daunting, but there should be a place to at least get a toehold.  Then there should be parts where if you follow instructions and use the tools that have been explained in class.  Then there should be an “aha” moment where you come up with a particularly clever answer and see the logic of it, and then the denouement where the answer you just got helps you wrap up the remainder of the grid.

A long time ago, I taught x-ray and MRI physics, and today I still do some teaching in biostatistics. Most of the undergrads I taught had not taken a lot of math, so I couldn’t take their understanding of algebra and exponents for granted. The things which came automatically to me were like gibberish to them, and some of the students would just throw their hands up when confronted with even a fairly elementary numeric problem (just like Hot’s students).  I found that giving the students a script for breaking down the numbers and units and fitting them into the proper equation was the key to overcoming their insistence that they couldn’t solve the problem.

So if you’re trying to encourage novice solvers to take up cryptics (and I hope you are), you might keep a “teaching file” of puzzles with particularly good examples of advanced clue types: ones that are fairly obvious to recognize and straightforward to solve.  Then when your pupils see they really can work these out, they’ll be encouraged to tackle the next puzzle.  

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): medium to hard—some uncommon words but nothing obscure.

Agility quotient (as described last week): moderate

Hozom’s comment: “Problems that can be Solved,” in which a week after Trazom describes the intersection between his work and his constructing, Hot does likewise.

Cluing challenge (at Word Salad): MATHEMATICS

Back with the solution Monday.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you're responding to a hint request, please remember not to give more information than necessary. More direct hints are allowed after Monday.