Join Kevin Brookhouser for an in-depth discussion in this video Solve the two types of problems, part of Teaching Future-Ready Students.
- In this video, I'm going to introduce the difference between algorithmic and wicked problems, and suggest why we need students who can solve both. We all want kids today to grow into people who can make the world a better place. But what a challenge we're handing them. We've created problems on a truly massive level, spanning the globe and lasting for generations. Climate change, international conflict, massive inequality, and much more. We educators are here to help our students deal with this insanity.
But not because we know how to make the world a better place. The issues we face in an interconnected society are too big and too complicated. We don't have all the answers. What we do have is a confidence that solutions exists. And the knowledge that we can create a new generation of people capable of solving what our own generation hasn't yet managed. We just need to help them practice radically new, world-changing ways of thinking about problems.
This process starts by recognizing that problems come in two categories. Solved and unsolved. You experts on rhetoric will recognize these as algorithmic and heuristic problems. Most educational systems are built around the algorithmic category. We show kids ways to solve problems that someone else has already figured out. Then we make them show us that they've learned the right formulas and can apply them.
Here are just a few examples. In math, we teach students how to use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the hypotenuse of a triangle. That's algorithmic learning. In grammar, we have structures of language such as punctuation and spelling. The more students can master these grammatical algorithms, the better they can communicate. In physics, we teach that force is the product of mass times acceleration. Total algorithm. Even history has algorithms.
The balance of power formula explains how when any one group appears to gain too much power, the other groups team up to counter it. This formula helps students better understand strategies for predicting and coping with political and economic change. Let me be clear. This teaching approach is not something to throw out. Passing algorithmic knowledge from one generation to the next is essential for any culture to survive. But school today needs to be about more than teaching students to solve formulas.
We need them to create formulas. We need them to solve heuristic problems that haven't yet been solved. In other words, we need wicked problem solvers. That is, people who are courageous, willing to take risks and keep going when they fail. Adaptable. Constantly learning and growing, and passionate. True passion comes from a sense of purpose, and that's what drives innovation.
- Understanding the new literacies
- Motivating problem solvers
- Inspiring divergent thinking with Limbo
- Bringing 20time into the classroom
- Guiding creative learners
- Finding the right mentor for entrepreneurial kids
- Making elevator pitches
- Grading entrepreneurial projects
- Telling stories through video
- Creating screencast video
- Capturing video with a smartphone
- Editing videos on YouTube
- Teaching code
- Designing apps
- Incorporating coding activities in the classroom