Approaching ‘Wicked’ Problem Solving

Schools are living organizations that face many decisions in terms of daily, monthly, and yearly operation. There are always challenges and problems to be address, and though it may seem as there is a clear solution from our perspective, there are always multiple points of view to consider.

Through working on attacking the wicked problem in class, it has been an opportunity to really consider how these types of problems are addressed in our schools today. Recently, I have had the privilege of sitting on a steering committee for a strategic planning initiative which has also given me insight into these types of problems. I think the fact that it is very easy to talk about this issues at a surface level makes them seem easier to solve than they really are. Once you dig into the complexities of the problem, and the challenges that solutions to the problem introduce, it is not so easy to discuss anymore. Also, people are emotionally invested in programs that are attached to the wicked problem so there is a personal level that touches people when you examine change.

When we were discussing our problem, it was interesting how much educational jargon we were utilizing, but yet how we each had a different view of what those words meant. I think that it is really important that the problem be broken down clearly with the removal of as much jargon as possible – so as to not simplify the problem but provide clarity in understanding.

The truth is, change can be difficult and challenging, but change can also bring with it wonderful new opportunities and improvements that make things “better”. I think that problem solving is truly more of an mind-set that involves continual analysis, tweaking, and honesty in addressing concerns and not being afraid to admit when something isn’t working as well as it could/should.


One comment

  1. Marcie,

    I agree with your assessment of how little unpacking we were able to do of our wicked problems and how much will be necessary in attacking the problems we encounter in the future. I have enjoyed looking at your blog and reading of your progress and insights almost as much as I enjoyed your articulate, well thought out contributions to our daily coursework. It has been a pleasure working with you and learning from you. Believe it or not I’m already looking forward to next year!



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