Thinking Outside the Box


The 9 Dots Puzzle was introduced in by Sam Lloyd in 1914.  However, in the 1970’s and 1980’s management consultants used it, challenging their clients to solve the puzzle.  The goal of the puzzle is to link all 9 dots using four straight lines, without lifting the pen and without tracing the same line.  The puzzle proposed an intellectual challenge, one that forced people to think of solutions that might not have been in plain site.  The phrase “thinking outside the box” originates from the discussions around how to solve the puzzle.

Over time, critical thinking problems such as the 9 Dots Puzzle, the Rubik’s Cube, and Karl Duncker’s candle box experiment have challenged people to challenge the way they think.  In the last couple of years, I have seen countless initiatives thrown out in education.  However, many of these initiatives are just put in the same contextual box of education that we are used.  As we move forward, movements like Iowa’s BIG and Donors Choose have allowed educators to start stepping out of what they know.

This is my challenge to you: How can we continue to re-define what the education box looks like in the future?

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