I recently began the Leading Edge Administrator Certification through TICAL. It’s been 2 years since I completed my doctoral program, and I was hesitant to once again be a student. After just two weeks of being in Leading Edge, I am so glad that I took this step. While I have always maintained pretty voracious reading habits, the program is asking me to reflect on my ideas and goals.
A recent assignment asked us to formulate a vision statement for the year 2020- how do we want our organization to function in the future? As someone “in the trenches” it’s easy to get caught up in the immediacy of projects and problems. By asking me to think ahead and dream big, I came to a particular realization. I was reflecting on how project based learning helps students become “independent problem solvers.” There was something about this idea that felt incomplete.
It’s not enough to teach students the skills to SOLVE problems. In order to be meaningful contributors to society, students need to be able to IDENTIFY problems on their own. While problem solving is a worthy educational focus, we are not serving tomorrow if students depend on someone else to tell them what the problems are that need to be solved. How can we say we are developing innovators if we are not ensuring that students have the capacity to analyze a situation enough to recognize that there is a problem to be solved?