This week we started reading Problem Solving 101 by Ken Watanabe with illustrations by Alan Sanders. The book begins by introducing characters that struggle with problem-solving due to their approach. As we described the characters, we took notice of the times when we felt like could identify with the characters.
Miss Sigh is easily overwhelmed by challenges and often gives up before really trying assuming she will never succeed and everyone will think she is a failure.
Mr. Critic is quick to point out the flaws in other people’s ideas but fails to offer any constructive ideas of his own.
Miss Dreamer has grand ideas but never makes a plan and never follows through so her dreams stay dreams.
Mr. Go-Getter believes that all problems can be solved by just working harder without considering root causes of problems or how well his current strategy is working and whether or not an alternative approach would be more beneficial.
Providing ways for students to name self-defeating approaches or tendencies is a valuable way for students to distance themselves from these negative characteristics and see them not as inherent qualities but habits of the mind that can be changed.
Next week, we will read more about what separates these characters from problem solvers.
As we continue the book, we will learn specific tools for problem-solving including logic trees, yes/no trees and hypothesis pyramids. When students have specific tools they can use to approach familiar and unfamiliar problems, they are able to think more clearly in the face of a challenge and are able to build confidence in their ability to creatively solve problems.