I wrote about teaching mistakes. And I thought it was more important than problem solving because for most part of the mass education system, we are not learning to specify problems properly. This is just about one of the most important skill in life but we realise that in schools, it is the teachers learning how to specify problems clearly while students are only trained to find answers to problems.
Over time, because the system is gamed, students merely learn to recognise the signals in the problem statement that will prompt certain responses or answers without necessarily making the genuine connection between the problem and the solution. The trick to change this, I believe, is to teach ‘mistakes’ – ie. problem specifications and then for people to learn to be able to look at the problem through many angles.
This approach more often than not eventually leads to problem-solving more than when one just jumps into a situation trying to solve some vaguely-specified problems. The issue with getting people to try solve problems without even teaching them how to identify one means we get people entering the workplace learning to create new problems to solve rather than looking for the right problems to solve. That creates those bullshit jobs that I’ve previously commented about. And also career-maximisers who would be happy to start fires which they put out and then get themselves recognised for putting out the flames.
Equipping our next generation with problem-solving capabilities is about diagnosis of problems, tracing and investigating the root causes and then taking a bigger, open mind approach to finding a solution rather than being anxious to take the hammer in the toolbox to strike just about everything thinking they’re all nails.