Solving Future Problems
Preparing Students and Children To Solve Problems That Don't Yet Exist
I was reading through a PowerPoint article, Did You Know, about some aspects of the world population and technology in the world, and finally some important ideas for education in the future. The concept that really struck home with me is that, “the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 didn’t exist in 2004 … We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist… Using technologies that haven’t been invented… In order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” What a daunting task educators and parents have in such a quickly changing world.
In my mind the best way to prepare students and children to solve problems that don’t yet exist is to help them gain the knowledge that is needed, teach some problem solving strategies, foster critical thinking skills, and practice practice, practice. This is why I love Math Word Problems. I’m not a sadistic teacher who enjoys watching my students suffer, I just like math that applies what we’re learning to real life. I remember one assignment we had that asked a question about the cost of food at a restaurant and some students made a calculation error and found that the orange juice was $110. The crazy part was that they submitted that response for a grade. There are only two reasons I can think of for this kind of a response, either they have gone to too many baseball games, or they didn’t think much before submitting their responses.
One of the great advantages of technology and specifically online schooling is that I can bring some things to students all across my state without needing to get a pass for a field trip. Through the use of some technology I have for some time trying to create a learning environment for students where they are given questions and not necessarily given the answers. In an effort to help students with thinking and answering some open ended questions I put together some videos about “Math that makes you think.” I send these to students from time to time to encourage some critical thinking and help foster inquisitive minds.
Mr. Buffington’s Math that makes you think: Fractions to Decimals
I have been very impressed by the logical reasoning, and sometimes comical illogical reasoning that came from the minds of those students. But most of all I am happy to see students thinking outside the box to solve problems.
It is wonderful that in the online learning environment, students are learning some content, some curriculum, but they are learning so much more. If a student is successful in an online school they will leave with content knowledge, study habits, problem solving skills, computer literacy, and a sense of accomplishment that they have done something that is challenging and worthwhile. I hope that my students master the math content. I hope that it makes them think. But most of all, I hope, as did Mark Twain that, “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education."