“If you’re doing a jigsaw puzzle and a piece you thought fit in a spot where it doesn’t actually fit, that missed fit is viewed as useful information. Go ahead and try the piece in a different spot–that’s not a threat to your identity as a puzzle solver. In fact, your identity as a puzzle solver is tied up in the idea that if the evidence shows a piece didn’t fit, you simply try a new spot, you don’t feel threatened or disrespected.”
I think it’s important to teach my students how to be problem solvers. Sometimes the solution doesn’t always happen the first time but we shouldn’t just quit when that happens. Finding the answer is important but what happens when they run into an obstacle and can’t get the answer? It is easy to give up but when you get in the workplace, giving up is not an option.
I need to help them learn some strategies when the solution seems just out of reach.
Take some time. Sometimes it helps to walk away from the problem and do something else. If I’m too focused on trying to find a solution, I can become frustrated and can’t see to resolve any issues. If I am away from up for a while, I can come back with a fresh perspective.
Get someone else’s opinion. Again, having a fresh perspective may help. The other person may have strengths that I don’t have and be able to see a possible solution that I hadn’t even thought of happening.
Restate the problem differently. By doing that, you may see some other angles that are clearer to getting the problem solved.
Think about the barriers that are keeping you from getting to a solution. You might be able to overcome some barriers and then come closer to the solution.
I can’t just tell my students these strategies. I need to give them time to practice them and see how they work in real-life situations. After they complete the problem, I would have them discuss the problem and see which strategy helped them.
How do you teach students to solve problems when they hit a snag? Please share.
Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog (http://successfulteaching.net) by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).