Where did you learn your ability to solve problems? The answer for most people is when I left school and got into the real world. Then it was by watching others and a lot of trial and error. Imagine having learned and internalized a systematic approach to solving problems before leaving school.
Problem-solving is always near the top of the list when speaking of 21st century skills. As authors Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes, and Andrew Churches write in Literacy is NOT Enough: “How we teach problem solving in classrooms isn’t really working for us. Presenting a problem, then giving students the answer by showing them how we got it, and then repeating the process over and over by giving them a series of similar problems to solve doesn’t cut it. When we do this, we aren’t teaching them anything other than how smart we are. We are cultivating dependency, not independent thought and the ability to analyze and solve problems.”
They go on to add: “In a 21st-century learning environment, the method is different. We provide problems that are interesting and relevant to students, problems whose solutions involve elements of the mandated curriculum. To guide the students, we provide them with the 6 Ds, a process by which they can solve any problem they encounter, and Solution Fluency, the ability to use the 6Ds in an unconscious manner.”
Here is a short video by one of the authors, Lee Crockett, on the 6 Ds of Solution Fluency:
From the book:
DEFINE: To define a problem is to unpack it by restating in your own words so that you understand what is being asked of you before you start to solve the problem.
DISCOVER: How did we get to this point? What decisions were made in the past that provide insight to help us solve the problem? What could have prevented the problem? Does that still apply? How have others before us looked at this problem?
DREAM: Dream is a whole mind process that allows us to imagine possible solutions as they will exist in the future. This is a visioning process in which we not only imagine what is possible but also remain open to what seems to be impossible. Conceptualize what might be. Open your mind and ask, “Why not?”
DESIGN: Design is a roadmap that keeps us on track to our goal. It is a plan that can be checked, discussed, re-evaluated, and modified. We build backward from the future to the present, identifying the milestones and creating achievable deadlines, breaking down all the necessary steps to get us from here to there.
Deliver: There are two components to Deliver: produce and publish. Producing is only half the work. Designing a presentation isn’t enough; it has to be presented. Writing a song isn’t enough; it has to be recorded. Developing a script isn’t enough; the work has to be performed. You must deliver the goods.
DEBRIEF: Debrief offers the opportunity to examine and evaluate the final product and the process undertaken, to determine what was done well and what could have been done better. Solution Fluency is not a linear process but a cyclical one. At any point you may need to revisit one or more of the previous stages and make adjustments.