Saturday, June 4, 2011

Solving Problems: Living in the solution or dwelling in the status quo?

“Whether we wish it or not we are involved in the world's problems and all the winds of heaven blow through our land” (Lippmann, 1914/ 1962, p. 83)
By definition (Merriam-Webster, 2010), a problem is: 1 a : a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution b : a proposition in mathematics or physics stating something to be done 2 a : an intricate unsettled question b : a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation c : difficulty in understanding or accepting Therefore, by definition, the nature of a problem is for it to be addressed or solved, otherwise distress, ambiguity, or lack of understanding continues. Unaddressed problems do not lead to a status quo or the identification of a solution. So, without addressing its problems an organization or system is compromised.
Dewey (1929) wrote, "We live in a world which is an impressive and irresistible mixture of sufficiencies, tight completenesses, order, recurrences which make possible prediction and control, and singularities, ambiguities, uncertain possibilities, processes going on to consequences as yet indeterminate. They are mixed not mechanically but vitally.... We may recognize them separately but we cannot divide them, for unlike wheat and tares they grow from the same root" (p. 47).
When asked what he would do if given an hour to save the world, Einstein was quoted as saying he would take “fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.” Certainly such an approach identifies the importance of recognizing the roles of all parties involved in a problem: stakeholders, gate-keepers, and decision-makers (Gaynor, 1998). The effective leader becomes familiar with each party and seeks to find the most effective way to have each diverse group reach consensus. Of course Einstein also stated, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
The role of a literary analysis in resolution of a problem was well-summarized by Rumrill and Fitzgerald (2001), who noted: "Because a profession’s knowledge base is typically built in small, incremental steps with each successive primary research study building upon the one before it, and because most contemporary social science theories are derivations of existing conceptual models and previous literature, the responsible researcher must be thoroughly familiar with the history of research in the given knowledge domain that his or her study addresses" (p.165).
As a result of this type of process, the NCLB Act (2002) defines scientifically based research as "research that involves the application of rigorous, systematic, and objective procedures to obtain reliable and valid knowledge relevant to education activities and programs.” When a problem exists in a student's learning, educators need to identify and utilize scientific or research-based interventions. An educator must therefore remain up-to-date with his or her review of the current literature by being a committed life-long learner. Otherwise, he or she is part of the problem rather than a resource for the solution.