Can problem solving be taught?
I am reading a book on Italy called Regole or “Rules” which discusses some of the problems of modern Italy. The authors point out the problems of the Italian education system and suggest that a greater emphasis should be put on teaching “problem solving” rather than teaching “knowledge”.I am skeptical about the ability to teach problem solving or, for that matter, critical thinking. I see no evidence that teachers who specialize in teaching these “skills” are better at them then others. My wife is a better problem solver in those areas where she has knowledge and experience, and I am better in those areas where I have lots of knowledge and experience. I would want an experienced carpenter on a job site, not someone who took a course on problem solving. If we are talking about politics and economics, or business, or the modern information society, a wide general knowledge as well as very specific technical knowledge, and relevant experience, are what is needed. Of course, a lot will also depend on our inherent ability to reason practically.I hear so many people exercizing their “critical thinking” skills based largely on ignorance and the results are not pretty.I still think we need to teach knowledge, or at least the skills needed to acquire knowledge, like good reading skills.
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