28 mars 2012

"Problem-solving skills" (Critical Guide, E.D. Hirsch Jr)

   A phrase often used in conjunction with "higher order skills" and "critical-thinking skills." 

   In a narrow sense, it refers to the ability to solve problems in mathematics or other specialized fields. 

   More broadly, it refers to a general resourcefulness and skill that will enable the student to solve various future problems. 

   The nature of this general problem solving skill has not been scientifically defined, and it is doubtful that it exists. Work on the problem-solving abilities of specialists like doctors, chess players, and physicists has shown consistently that the ability to solve problems is critically dependent on deep, well-practiced knowledge within the special domain, and that these problem-solving abilities do not readily transfer from one domain to another. 

   In short, there seems to exist no abstract, generalized, teachable ability to solve problems in a diversity of domains. 

   For schools to spend time teaching a general skill that does not exist is clearly a waste of resources, which illustrates the inherent shortcomings of the tool conception of education.

Antipathy to subject-matter content  

"banking theory of schooling" 
"culturally-biased curriculum" 
"outcomes-based education" 
"research has shown"


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This was an excerpt from Hirsch's great book on education :
The Schools We Need 
 and Why We Don't Have Them.
Recension by Richard Askey :  

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