WHEN confronted with a problem, most of us are trained to look for answers and solutions. Very few take the time to look at the problem itself.
For example, if I were to present the problem: Pedro has 8 oranges in one hand and 10 oranges in the other, what does he have?
Most people would straightaway answer 18 oranges. One clever student, however, answered, “Pedro has very large hands.”
Or how about this: Julie has a pile of 100 chocolate bars and 200 candies. She eats 52 chocolate bars and 112 candies. What does Julie now have?
Again, most of you would start computing and say, Julie now has 48 chocolate bars and 88 candies.
But then this smart-aleck answers, “Diabetes. Julie now has diabetes.”
In school we are trained to ask, is that the right answer? But in real life, in business, and in many other areas, I more often than not been forced to ask, is that the right question? How you frame the question is more crucial than finding the answer.
The right question puts you in a state of mind that is open and creative while the wrong question can make the situation seem very limiting and constrictive.
These days, educators are asking all the wrong questions -- How do we raise test scores? How do we increase our school’s college passing rate? How do we get kids interested in our lessons? How do we get them to sit still and listen and take notes? What are effective teaching strategies? What topics need to be added to the curriculum?
What we ought to be asking, instead, are the following: How do children learn? And how can we best support their interests? How do we continually make ourselves relevant to them? What can we learn from them? How do we help prepare them for a future we may not see? How do we help them make difficult decisions?
What do you think?
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