Problem-finding in education

Based on the following have just pre-ordered Dan Pink’s To Sell Is Human to my list of books to read.

“the business world has a lot to learn from educators: what motivates people, how to inspire people to perform well. But educators can also take a lesson from the commercial world: namely, teaching the complicated skill of finding problems. In a recent study, Pink said school superintendents rated problem-solving as the top capability they wanted to instill. Corporate executives, however, rated problem-solving as seventh on their list of attributes in employees, but rated problem identification as the single most important skill. That is, the ability to suss out issues and challenges that aren’t necessarily obvious. And this is where students could benefit from educators — learning the process of identifying a problem.

“The premium has moved from problem solving to problem finding as a skill,” Pink said. “Right now, especially in the commercial world, if I know exactly what my problem is, I can find the solution to my own problem. I don’t need someone to help me. Where I need help is when I don’t know what my problem is or when I’m wrong about what my problem is. Problem solving is an analytical, deductive kind of skill. The phrase ‘problem finding’ comes out of research on artists. It’s more of a conceptual kind of skill.”

So how do educators help kids become problem-finders when they don’t know what the problem is or where the next one might be coming from? “A lot of people hate this word but I think we have to take it seriously, which is relevance,” Pink said. “There’s something to be said for connecting particular lessons to something in the real world.””