Schools Should Focus On Progress, Not Finding Problems
A new skirmish is emerging in education reform.
Some want students to not only learn how to solve problems, but also how to find them. Others fear that training students to seek out problems is creating ruinous pessimism.
There’s a better way forward that splits the difference between the two camps. It relies on ensuring that students develop agency—not learned helplessness—by seeking to make progress in the mold of an American ideal.
My new book, “From Reopen to Reinvent,” makes the case that schools need to help students learn coherent sequences of content, as well as habits of success and skills like problem solving. One of the first pushbacks on the skills I listed, however, was from a friendly critic who said I had left out the importance of students learning to be “problem seekers” or “problem finders.”
The camp urging students to not just be problem solvers but also to seek out problems stems from research around the effectiveness of salespeople and those who develop products in business settings. There’s a wide range of adherents.
Daniel Pink wrote about the phenomenon in his 2012 book “To Sell Is Human.” According to Pink, moving people from problem solvers to problem finders is what unleashes creative breakthroughs.
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