When you hear problem solving, I bet your mind goes straight to pages and pages of word problems, the bane of every math student’s existence. But do you think about the Scientific Method? What about the problem-resolution structure of historical events and literature?
You don’t? Amazingly, neither do students. We’ve treated the problem solving needs of each content area like they’re different skills when they’re really all the same. You figure out what the presented problem needs to be resolved. You look at what you have or already know. You figure out how the two fit together and make a plan for how you’re going to fill in gaps. And then you fill in the gaps and resolve the problem.
Problem solving is not a content-specific skill. In fact, in life problem solving shows up in places where subject areas are heavily intersected. So, why are we teaching four different types of problem solving, each related to its own discipline? Why not show students that problem solving relies on the same basic skills set, regardless of the situation?