Can Problem Solving Skill be everyone’s cup of Tea?

Can Problem Solving Skill be everyone’s cup of Tea?
  • Blog By
    Mrs. Latha Maheswari
    Principal, CBSE (9-12)
    The Indian Public School – Erode.
    March, 07 2022 | In Blog

“Every problem is a gift. Without them, we wouldn’t grow.”- Tony Robbins

What’s this skill about?

We live in a fast-paced world, where producing more of the same knowledge and skill will not suffice to address the challenges of the future. We need to keep updating ourselves or be left behind in stagnant waters with no growth in life as well as in our careers.

A skill set is something that enables oneself to grow through and out of all difficult circumstances in the 21st century. The world is always changing and developing. Hence, learning new skills has become the need of the hour. Each skill is meant to adequately prepare today’s students for the future.

The endurance of a learner into the 21st century lies purely in attaining a complete skill set like problem-solving, creativity, innovation, meta-cognition, communication, etc.

Are children having trouble solving Math sums? Are children struggling to maintain their bond with their friends in a hostel? If the answer is ‘yes’ then for sure you got to lean on the skill of problem-solving.

It’s an ability, a life skill desired by everyone, as it is essential to manage our day-to-day lives. Whether you are at home, school, or at work. So, how do we resolve those?

You guessed it right – Problem Solving!

What is problem-solving?

Problem-solving skills can be defined as the ability to identify a problem, determine its cause, and figure out all the possible solutions to solve it. Problem solvers can observe, judge, and act expeditiously when difficulties arise when they inevitably do.

Problem-solving is also considered a soft skill (a personal strength) rather than a hard skill learned through education or training. To be a problem solver one doesn’t need to train the mind, you just need to be aware of the situations in life.

A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”

Firstly, problem-solving starts with identifying the issue. For example, for a teacher to figure out a way to improve the performance of a student in a test, the teacher will need to figure out how to improve the student’s performance in academics, to do that, the teacher will have to identify the areas where the student is falling behind. In this way, the teacher will be able to aid the student’s needs as well as see that the issue is resolved. 

Another example is where the teacher may see that the students can construct simple sentences but are struggling with writing paragraphs and organizing those paragraphs into an essay. To solve this problem, the teacher can work with students on how and when to write compound sentences, how to write paragraphs and ways to organize an essay.

Whenever students face a difficult situation where they do not know how to complete a task, the problem occurs.

The Process of Problem Solving

Problem-solving is a process that involves structured observation and critical thinking to find an appropriate solution to reach the desired goal. The framework of problem-solving consists of two major skills: observation and critical thinking skills. Observation skill requires collecting data, understanding and interpreting the meaning of the information

using all the senses. Critical thinking involves the individual’s ability to conceptualize, logical reasoning, apply strategy, analytical thinking, decision making, and synthesize to solve any problem. Just by reading all these big words, you may think you don’t possess this skill of problem-solving in you, but unconsciously we are all inbuilt with a lot of abilities to be problem solvers in any given situation.

The greatness of Apple’s Steve Jobs – in the words of his colleagues – lay in the fact that he was the greatest problem solver of his time. On the verge of Apple’s bankruptcy, he made sure to place the customers’ feedback and likes first in order to bring a high profitable income as well as to raise the brand of APPLE to the world market.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” ― Albert Einstein

The Problem-Solving Formula

There are several approaches to learning problem-solving skills. Let’s have a glimpse of an effective five-step formula: “IDEAL”

I – Identify

D- Define

E- Examine

A- Act and

L- Look

1. IDENTIFY the problem

2. DEFINE the main components of the problem

Deconstruct the problem by defining its main elements.

3. EXAMINE possible solutions

Finding possible solutions is a tricky step in the problem-solving process, as on the surface it looks like most of the work is already done and the ultimate goal is close. We should not just look for simplistic ways to address the elements of the problem.

4. ACT on resolving the problem

Developing a step-by-step execution plan, acting effectively and decisively is the final touch in the problem-solving process.

5. LOOK for lessons to learn

At the moment when the problem is solved, I suggest that we sit down with all their problem-solving trees and action plans, either alone or together.

There are so many problem-solving benefits of acquiring the skill. It promotes creative thinking, improves decision-making abilities, builds solid communication skills, develops the ability to learn from mistakes, and avoids the repetition of mistakes.

Problem-solving techniques are life hacks that we can use in our everyday life. There’s a life hack for every possible everyday problem, but there are some things in life that we are so used to that we never even thought they could be updated. For example, 

A restaurant sells fries in paper cones and the tables have diamond-shaped holes that hold the cones.

Putting the tips above into practice can help you draw closer to solving problems in new ways. By becoming a better problem solver, you can become more efficient at discovering creative solutions to your biggest challenges. Who knows, your next idea may be practically genius and ignite something amazing!

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June 2024