Identifying problems as a way to move others takes two long-standing skills and turns them upside down. First, in the past, the best salespeople were adept at accessing information. Today, they must be skilled at curating it— sorting through the massive troves of data and presenting to others the most relevant and clarifying pieces. Second, in the past, the best salespeople were skilled at answering questions (in part because they had information their prospects lacked). Today, they must be good at asking questions— uncovering possibilities, surfacing latent issues, and finding unexpected problems. (Pink, 132 p.)
What if we simply think about the changes in history? Do the learners in our care ever experience current history lessons and learning? What about math? Are we “stuck” in an AP Calculus track for “good” math students? Do we learn enough probability and statistics? What about combinatorics or fractals and recursion?
How are we curating information? Are we teaching how to curate information and uncover possibilities? Are we striving to make connections from our discipline to the work of others? Do we model learning, curation, and connecting ideas?
Real learning, whether in the classroom or the real world, occurs when an individual takes a personal stake in solving a problem that is meaningful to him or her. The person finds a visceral, tangible difference between the world as they expect or want it to be and the world as it is. They will wrestle and prod and provoke the problem, using all of their tools and resources, until they either resolve the conflict to a point of satisfaction or just give up. Dissonance immediately leads to questioning: we ask “why,” “why not,” and “what if” until answers of satisfactory magnitude are found that either eliminate the dissonance or decrease it to a level of acceptability. (Lichtman, 104-105 p.)
Why is it so uncomfortable to linger in and embrace the struggle? Do we see struggle to learn as failure? Do we believe that if we don’t learn it the first time, we fail? What if we encouraged learners to discuss and reflect on the struggle?
First, resist the urge to react. Nine times out of ten, we are trying to solve the wrong problem. Reaction without analysis and understanding will almost always result in an inadequate solution. It may be easy, but it won’t be right. Remember where problems come from; dissonance. Find the dissonance. (Lichtman, 116 p.)
I argue with labeling events (or people) as failures. What if, when you fail, you try again? Isn’t this event then just a stumble? I assume, again, that I have attention blindness and need others to help me with perspective. I agree that, while difficult, we should ask more questions before problem solving. I aspire to dwell in problem-find analysis and questioning long enough to uncover multiple possibilities and find unexpected problems.
I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.
I aspire to become a falconer.
Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.
Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.
[Cross posted at Experiments in Learning by Doing]