The scientific method – a basic problem-solving method or guide
– is neutral as far as the problem solver’s body of knowledge
and thinking ability are concerned. Thus, it is the same guide for the
student, amateur, or professional. It is a universal method for everyone.
Of course, the more knowledgeable and the better thinker will be more
successful. But everyone should follow, to the best of their ability,
the same stages when attempting to solve a complex problem.
Thus, Problem Solvers should:
- Increase their general body of knowledge
- Increase their knowledge of the domain or occupational area in which
they earn their living
- Increase their knowledge of and skills in the problem-solving process
and the supporting ingredients
- Since the scientific method or guide is neutral and universal in its
relationship to subject matter and to an individual’s body of
knowledge and thinking abilities, this makes it ideal to teach across
the curriculum in all school grades from the beginning to the end.
Problem Solving Leads to Knowledge. To further impress
you with the value and need for problem solving, I would like to explain
its close relationship to knowledge. Curiosity leads to the discovery
of problems. Problem solution and challenge of solution leads to knowledge
– reliable to various degrees.
What is Knowledge? Philosophers and others have been
debating a definition of knowledge for ages. I checked seven dictionary
definitions of knowledge. They refer mostly to “facts, information,
body of facts, principles accumulated by mankind, general truths, enlightenment,
wisdom, and others.” There were no references to reliable knowledge
being a product of the scientific method of problem solving.
In Process Education (1972), Henry P. Cole says:
“Many have assumed that knowledge is something other than process.
But knowledge is in no way static. It is a collection of ever-changing
and expanding information about the meaning individuals and societies
have constructed from their singular and collective experiences. It
always has ill-defined boundaries, no limits on its extension, and exists
only in a continual state of flux.”
You are on the right track to be interested in problem solving –
the path to RELIABLE KNOWLEDGE.