Friday, August 7, 2009

The Origin of a Name

Back when PenPal Notes were being created, Pappu and his team had a little debate over what to name the central character. Pappu was pushing the name Tej, after his son, while others argued that the name was too foreign and would lead to difficulties in pronounciation. Well, we all know who won out!

Pappu believed that naming the panda 'Tej' would speak to multiculturalism and diversity. In Sanskrit, 'Tej' means 'radiant' or 'bright'!

We have since discovered that Tej is the name for honey wine from Ethiopia- talk about international appeal! Check it out to the left.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

U of C Graduate School of Business and PenPal Notes!

PenPal Notes is being used as part of a class project for the University of Chicago Booth School of Business! Students in a class called Power and Influence in Organizations are focusing on PenPals to analyze issues of social influence. PenPal Notes put a new twist on education and connection to children- they impart just 1 fact, and are not relegated to what we commonly think of as academic time (indeed, they originated off of the idea of educational notes at lunch- an occasion traditionally reserved for relaxation and leisure!) We are confident that absorbing a single nugget of information at a time is a valuable educational tool. In addition, we believe that there is space for learning at lunch or any other time, and that learning can be made fun and easy.

Keeping all of these issues in mind, the University of Chicago MBA students will be considering how to promote behavioral change- how to get parents to adopt this new method of education! PenPal Notes provide a perfect study for how to change all the ingrained habits that tell us that books are the only medium through which knowledge is gained, and that the longer the book, the better. We know that PenPal Notes don't fit easily into established categories- Is it a book? Is it education or fun?- and we can't wait until they come back with their conclusions!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Quantity or Quality?

The New York Times recently featured an interesting article about the state of museum-goers today. Watching tourists taking in the sights at the Louvre, Michael Kimmelman comments on how few people actually took the time to really examine a work of art. Instead, most people glanced at the wall labels and moved on, trading in quality for quantity. He continues,
"At one time a highly educated Westerner read perhaps 100 books, all of them closely. Today we read hundreds of books, or maybe none, but rarely any with the same intensity."
I believe that this speaks precisely to the premise behind PenPal Notes- less is really more. Originating with the idea of building upon the traditional lunch note, it quickly became apparent that giving children a single fact at a time helped with information retention. This concept has become our guiding philosophy, and children are able to really take their time and digest the information at hand. While books are of course important for any child's education, PenPal Notes provides something different- just 1 fact a day. This means that this 1 fact can be read, contextualized and discussed thoroughly, a practice that is all too often lost amid our busy, modern lives!

Monday, August 3, 2009

New series in the works!

We here at PenPal Notes have some very exciting news! We will be starting work shortly on two new series, Discover India and Discover China, and are looking for some help. First off, and most importantly, we need someone to write either of the two series! Do you know anyone who you think would do a good job? Are you yourself interested? If so, feel free email to for more information. We are also looking to create a new animal friend for Tej- any suggestions? We would love your input, and look forward to hearing from you!