Let’s solve a problem


Did you know that the purpose of most learning is to solve a problem? Why is the sky blue? How did Russia beat Napolean? Would I understand the book better if I read it in its original language?

How do you go about solving problems? Well, you would have to know what you’re looking for. We use the scientific method to define the questions when we’re looking for physical information about the world around us.

  • Ask a question
  • Gather information
  • Find the gaps in your information (what do you want to know)
  • Analyze the gaps and hypothesize to design an experiment
  • Observe the experiment and note the results
  • Accept or reject the hypothesis

What about Math problems? When working with numbers, we’re looking for the connections between what we can observe and what we can predict.

  • Look at the last line of the word problem. (How old is Max? How tall is the tree?)
  • Gather the information that you know.
  • Analyze and hypothesize what you don’t know.
  • Use the relationships you already know to discover the relationship you don’t by manipulating the information you have. Test the answer.
  • Once you have an approach to this problem, see if this approach works on other similar problems. (that would be targeted practice)
  • Categorize and store this approach.

They look similar don’t they!

How do you learn?

  • Ask a question
  • Gather information (What you know and what don’t)
  • Find the gaps in your skill or information (what you need to improve in this case)
  • Analyze the gaps and hypothesize to design your targeted practice
  • Make use of your targeted practice to incorporate new information with old information
  • Accept or Reject new information which results in Rejecting or Retaining old information

Does that look familiar? If we have a process that helps us discover scientific information and a similar one that helps us discover theoretical information, why wouldn’t a process that helps us learn ANY type of information be a useful thing to know?

In moving from the concrete to the abstract, we’re observing physical phenomena and then trying to come to a predictive principle. How old does a star have to be before it blows up? Then they make a theory and develop the math to describe what they saw. In moving from abstract to concrete, they use the math to predict the likelihood of another star blowing up based on the parameters of the one they observed before.

Then if we look at random events like noticing that the wood chips have melded into an extremely strong surface and discovering a use for this product. Then the person develops a process to replicate the results.

What have we done? We have used the same process to 4 different ends. Can we use this same learning process to learn a language? Ballet? Sports? Art? Of course.

So the answers are discovered or computed by solving problems. And life is a problem to be solved. Therefore, Learning is Life.

Published by Rebecca Fegan

To be a better anything, I have to be a better person. My results come from the quality of my thinking and it is something I always work on.

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