People Need Problems Instead of Answers

The definition of intelligence used to be the ability to know all the answers, but lately that idea is being overturned.

With such a dynamic world of technology and cultural transition on a global scale it can be impossible to nail down a specific answer to even the most basic questions. More than ever the measure of intelligence depends on adaptability rather than on certainty.

A study performed by economists in South America showed that students who were involved in self-directed problem based learning not only gained insight faster and better, they preferred it over traditional instruction.

By working in teams to solve real-world problems using information discovered on their own, students showed significant improvement in relevant subjects as well as their overall performance and self esteem. Additionally the teachers found their work was much more satisfying as they shifted their role from traditional lecturers to collaborators who guided students in problem-solving.

So if students would rather have problems than merely answers what does this say about the problems we face as adults? Rather than seeing problems as a burden we can benefit from recognizing the hidden value of approaching challenges with curiosity and playfulness.

It’s easy to assume that we should have all the answers, and when things are difficult we can see ourselves as incompetent and even stupid. This anxiety about shame often prevents us from facing challenges in effective and creative ways.

But by using students as a role model we can improve our motivation and confidence by seeking support from trusted friends and family who can act as collaborators in learning. This will lead us to gain new skills in each area of life, as well as upgrade our sense of resiliency to face all of life’s problems with enthusiasm.

Learn more about problem-based education by reading New, Strong Evidence For Problem-Based Learning.

unsplash-logoHans-Peter Gauster