innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation innovation
Educating Problem Solvers
THE PROBLEM WITH EDUCATION
THIS WILL BE A CENTURY REQUIRING PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS
THE MOST EFFECTIVE TEACHER IS EXPERIENCE
PROBLEM BASED LEARNING
LEARNING PROBLEM SOLVING PRINCIPLES

Conventional classroom education has not been a breeding ground for a problem solving perspective. In order to have the opportunity to develop problem solving skills, we have to actually engage in real problem solving.

Because we are seldom given latitude to shape the process by which we solve problems in school, little time is devoted to reflecting on the process – where we made mistakes, what alternative approaches we might have taken. Our natural inclination to being curious is discouraged.

Gurus of education, such as Howard Gardner at Harvard, see this century as presenting new challenges to education at all levels. He argues that the educational philosophy of one hundred years ago was attuned to the need for an educated elite with a general population having only basic literacy skills.

Nowadays, however, almost any function that can be executed through the application of regular procedures will sooner or later be computerized. To be attractive to employers, an individual must be highly literate, flexible, capable of troubleshooting and problem-finding, and not incidentally, able to shift roles or even vocations should his current position become outmoded.

The goal of education should be long term understanding, not short term performance on tests.

In my view, the most effective teacher of these principles is experience. But to learn from experience, we need to develop habits of reflection and self-criticism. Experience in problem solving does not start with our first job. We are solving problems from a very young age, difficult problems at that. Every day, children face the challenges of being a child, of finding their way with others, of shaping their ideas about things. Then they go to school. In the classroom, meaningful problem solving is put aside in favor of highly structured learning tasks. The opportunity is lost to build on their experiences.

At all levels of education, the effectiveness of the teacher talks - students listen paradigm is being challenged. The notion of education consisting of an accumulation of facts is giving way to a more student centered approach. For example, in Singapore, the mantra of the Ministry of Education is Less Teaching More Learning. Under several guises, the new approach focuses on the initiative of the student to define problems, inquire, explore and generate solutions. The teacher is recast as a mentor, selecting appropriate problems, guiding the student’s efforts, and helping the student assess progress.

Problem based education provides students a firm foundation for learning the principles of effective problem solving presented in this book. Mechanisms are presented for integrating each of the forty-four problem solving strategies into a problem based learning setting.

For innovation, click the book.