The Feast: The Problem About Discussing Problems

It is easy to discuss the problem part of issues. However, discussing and developing solutions is usually much more of a strain. Most of the time, it doesn’t seem to only be because solutions are hard to think of, rather, it seems like solutions are just unattractive to talk about.

The Feast I hosted was both a success and a failure.  Everyone said they enjoyed the discussion and wishes that we should do it again.  However, we failed to design a solution.  Albeit mostly my fault for poor organization, we had a hard time sticking with one topic, which made the discussion of identifying a problem to design a solution very difficult.

On a partially related note, something I found to be a pretty consistent pattern in most people is that it is easier or more fun to only discuss the problem and never a solution.  When solutions do come up, they are usually countered with, “yeah, but you see, the problem with that is…” with little consideration or thought, which results in no longer discussing solutions and focusing, again, only on problems.  Hardly anyone thinks, “okay, lets say this solution works, tell me more about it,” and then as the person gets more time to explain, the other will critique until it actually becomes a feasible solution.

Why is this?  It might have something to do with how we have been educated.  Perhaps it is because a lot of our K-12 schooling, hardly ever emphasizes or gives practice for problem-solving (although, preschoolers seem to be pretty good at it).  Mathematics is full of it, but the way in which it is taught in school is like this:

Student, here is a problem.  We must solve it.  Oh, please, don’t solve it yourself.  Here is a step-by-step how-to that I have provided you with.  Please copy this down.  When you go home to practice tonight on your homework, make sure to follow these steps or else you will get points off.  It is much easier for me to grade it if you don’t use your own methods–even if it does work.  Aka. please memorize all of this.

Step-by-step is certainly easier for both teachers and students.  However, it doesn’t seem to develop a student into someone who can think by themselves, which is usually how it works in the ‘real-world.’ Brainstorming for solutions, it seems, is saved for when we grow up.  Even in college, most students memorize their way through, which is a great way to receive an A (if you’re good at it).  However, beyond school, no one wants to know what knowledge you gained in school, they want to know what kinds of problems you can solve for the future–what kind of new knowledge can you contribute?  Without practice in solutions, the majority  of us will remain stagnant and contribute very little.


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