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Critical thinking

The Importance Of Problem Solving!

To learn and not to do is really not to learn....

To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know. (Photo credit: planeta)

This post is finished.  I am done with the revising and editing; but I wanted to put it up early so a class I am teaching could use it to learn something about critical thinking.

Cognitive development continues in adult life and some of the crucial elements are the individual’s creative and learned abilities to solve problems.  Do it “My way; but nicely” as a musical comedy (The King and I) song says is the way many parents and supervisors lead.  Could it be that the problem-solving skills of these individuals are also underdeveloped not just those of their children or their supervisees?  A good work relationship requires an able boss and a good employee, an able parent and a child with undeveloped potential, an able teacher and a willing student.  In all of these equations, both the leaders and those being led have to participate and make contributions.

How do we help this along?  It is by not letting an “I can’t do this” attitude from hindering a person’s development.  Learning does not stop at 16, 21, or 35.  It goes on for a lifetime.  I realize that I have, when confronted with a barrier or an obstacle, have not taken the time necessary.   I just want to get on with it so I continue on with that detail not attended to and also on depending on someone else to do what I have not learned to do for myself and not bothering to problem solve and master what may be a new skill for me.

Obstacles and barracades are opportunities to grow and learn and to acquire new skills.  How often have you said I can’t when you probably could.  Being constantly dependent on others to do things for us which we can’t or have not learned to do for ourselves can lead to anger both at ourselves and for our helplessness and at others whose whims we see ourselves are susceptible to.

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

Take on a new project.  Find one thing that you have not learned how to do for yourself and master it.  My spouse recently showed me for the nth time how to call up a missed number on the phone.  I had always depended on him to do it for me and if he wasn’t there I could get mad at myself for not knowing how to do it and at him for being in control of my life that way by not being able to return a simple phone call without him.

Now I have a growing list of things I should be able to do for myself which demands I usually met in the past with a feeble, “I can’t…”  Sometimes it is not easy; but, when mastered, these things give you more freedom to do it your way, not theirs.  Learning involves communication between pupil and teacher.  The student needs to build on what they already know in order to bridge the gap between themselves and teachers.  It is this communality that fosters learning.  The attitude, “This is so stupid.  Why can’t he learn this”, is often an example of the teacher’s tendency to give up and externalize the blame onto the student.

Finally, once you’ve solved the problem, remember to use what you have learned the next time you have that problem.  Remember practice makes perfect.  What you learn for yourself is often the best learning method.  You don’t leave any steps out or forget to define terms.  Focusing on the neuroplacity of the brain means that we can go on learning the rest of our lives.  It increases self-esteem,  it develops abilities you may be able to teach others as a legacy, it enlarges your sphere of life (now no more saying to yourself limiting yourself by saying, ” I won’t go there because I can’t do that and I am not willing to learn”.

Remember you sometimes can chose what you want to learn to do but you can’t always control others so that they will do things for you when you don’t know how.

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Creativity And Counterproductive Thinking

not who you are 344Is your thinking sometimes counterproductive?  Do you think the same old thing over and over and it doesn’t do a thing for you or your situation?  Do your thoughts often block your creativity and productivity?  How often do you think to yourself, “I can’t so why even try?”  It always keeps you from doing anything about it.

Counterproductive thinking often keeps one from thinking out of the box which is sometimes necessary to think of a solution.  Creativity is what it is all about.  Instead of thinking of one solution (even if tried and true) for a problem, think of many even if they don’t all work out then you have “exercised” your creativity.   I think the word is rigid for those who are stimmied when their planned for or go-to solution doesn’t work.

Some people have an incredibly difficult time changing gears when the first solution doesn’t work.  I always say, “If not plan A, then plan B.  If not plan B, then plan C and so on.”  The world is not designed so that “one size” fits all situations.  The brain continues to form new connections as long as you continue to use it.  Grow with me  Come share the excitement of a new ay of thinking, of possibility thinking.

Weddings are occasions when inevitably this type of problem occurs.  There seems to be at least one snafu.  The wrong wedding flowers arrive, the photographs don’t turn out, etc.  You can grin and bear it or try another way.  This ensures a happy occasion.  The guests might even think that you planned it that way.

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Please Listen To Me

good_listeningPlease listen to me so that you can tell me what I said.  Don’t make it a waste of my breath to talk to you.  Sometimes a conversation becomes a competition to see who can dominate  it and at the same time no one really is listening to the other.  You are trying to tell someone something and they are too busy thinking of what to say next to listen.

Why do we talk to others  Is it to learn something new or to convince someone else to accept our values or to take our point of view.  If you are not open to changing your mind or rethinking a position that you have taken then why do you think that other people would be that way?

Have you ever gotten involved in a conversation that has turned into a yelling match?  What do you think that you or the other people you are talking “at”  are accomplishing ?  Yes, it is nice to get something off your chest; but what if it doesn’t really solve anything?

Sometimes therapy is the only place where someone really listens to you; but then I (and probably you) have heard of stories where the therapist fell asleep during a session while supposedly listening to their patient.

activelistening-glych1

activelistening-glych1 (Photo credit: stallio)

Therapy involves “active listening” where the therapist repeats what the client has said in his or her own words to be sure that he or she has gotten correct what the other person has been trying to say.  Then the therapist might make an interpretation of what the client is actually probably doing or make a suggestion as to what the client might do about the problem they have just related to the therapist.

Debating is an activity that promotes active listening and the ability to see the other side of issues.  Critical thinking is encouraged and people are forced to be able to take both sides of an issue.  We are not always able to see the other person’s point of view.  In a society that promotes individual differences, we often get caught up in defending our right to have our own preferences and ignoring the right of others to have theirs.

Think for yourself, but give others that right too.

 

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Without Thinking

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So many people act and speak without thinking.  This happens even more often when emotion is involved.  Speak first; apologize later or do you even apologize.

Closely observe what other people are doing, feeling, and thinking then decide how you are going to respond if at all.  Pay attention to where your own head is at.  If you just spent three hours in a traffic jam, you might be a little annoyed and you might lack patience when dealing with others when you get where you are going.

In an emergency, you might act quickly; but when the situation is taken care of, you might find that you came to the wrong conclusion and did something that you wouldn’t have done if you had not thought that there was an emergency.

When an act or word was well-intentioned and you admit that later it was a mistake and that you wouldn’t have done it if you knew what was going on.

I have observed people who think that they are acting or speaking righteously and spontaneously correct another person’s behavior when they are actually extremely biased and see only what they want to see.  There can always be another part of the story that explains this person’s behavior that they do not know.

Last but not least, don’t let  negative gossip taint your handling of another person in an everyday situation  even if this person has done something wrong.  Should this change how you treat them when you are not directly involved and they are not doing anything wrong at the present moment.  Does this justify being rude?    You don’t necessarily need to be judge and jury.

 

 

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