“Together we are strong”. This phrase perfectly sums up the aims of the “puzzle method”. The “puzzle method” is a kind of classroom where students are taught social integration, cooperation, and empathy.
From the age of 6 onwards, children’s brains have evolved to the point that you can explain to them how they should not behave and how they are able to control themselves. For that reason, children’s school years are the best times to create behaviors based on peaceful as well as respectful coexistence.
The first school year is a challenge for children
The first day of school means a huge change for most children. They are no longer small babies at home. Instead, they are students who need to take on new responsibilities and duties and learn to play different roles.
One of these roles is the “student” role, which means they need to learn to interact and form relationships with other children in the same age group and culture or with those outside their age group and culture. In addition, they get new role models and guidelines that they use to question and judge themselves and everything around them.
A new social reality
In addition to their changing attitudes and new brain stimuli, think about what a classroom full of different religions, customs, skin colors, and learning backgrounds means to them. If they adapt to it from the wrong perspective, things can get really complicated.
The increasing prevalence of immigration means that a monocultural society will become multicultural. So it’s important to understand that this can actually be a great opportunity to teach children tolerance, coexistence, and social and cultural respect.
The puzzle method comes out here. It was invented by Elliot Aronson and has very good results in groups with different levels of education as well as learning styles.
The “puzzle method” is useful, efficient and easy to implement
The “puzzle method” is a collaborative learning technique that aims to strengthen the main structure (classroom) between the continuous interaction between the pieces (children) and the bonds. It has a dynamic and functional, yet simple methodology. In practice, it works by creating groups where classmates need to work together on a task to achieve a common goal.
In this method, each child is seen as a key part of the group, which only makes sense when everyone is communicating with each other, collaborating, and having the same goal. While children may have many different roles in school (popular, marginalized, “wrecks,” “rebels,”), these roles disappear in the puzzle method.
The structure of the “puzzle method”
Prejudices in children usually come from effects that are beyond the control of the school. But breeders are the ones who build on the foundations built at home. In addition, they must be effective cultural mediators. So how do you structure this technology to make sure it works perfectly?
- Explaining the technology: this shows children what it is, what their role is and what its purpose is. It also motivates them and teaches them essential social skills to work in a group. The teacher needs to emphasize how each student should work together and row in the same direction.
- Formation of “mother ship groups”: these should be made up of 4-5 students from different cultures. The teacher should divide the teaching goal into as many categories as the number of students in the group. For example, in an elementary school language lesson, one student can search for synonyms and another for anonyms, one can change the structure of a sentence, and another can find out the word “inappropriate”…
- Forming an “expert group”: Students in the same category work together in this group where they argue and express themselves. Referring to the previous example, one group of experts would search only for synonyms for words, while another would search only for antonyms and so on.
- Finally, a reunion with the “mother ship group”: each expert returns to the mother ship group and tells the other group the results and what they have learned.
Advantages of the puzzle method
The “puzzle method” has many benefits compared to other conventional methods of improving relationships between students from different ethnic backgrounds.
- Helps students think critically and develop mental intelligence on cultural issues. So they may not yet be mature enough to really raise their moral side.
- Makes them face different perspectives while keeping in mind the ideological and cultural differences of each student. It also enhances their skills.
- Encourages empathy and a positive personal connection between students. It also develops their sense of civic duty and solidarity.
- Ensures the development of social skills to interact with the group and express their own point of view in an non-aggressive and non-coercive way.
- Promotes intelligence and creativity as it teaches them new intellectual skills.
- Teach them to learn independently: as children grow older, it’s good to give them a little independence. Thus, they can make their own decisions and increase their sense of security as well as self-confidence.
In summary, the “puzzle method” is a collaborative teaching method that has been very effective in encouraging an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence at school, regardless of the age of the students.
It helps them get used to behaviors based on tolerance and common respect. It promotes intellectual and cognitive development combined with collaboration and social behavior.