School: it’s all about self directedness and complex problem solvers!

by Steve Wyckoff on March 16, 2010

After a great deal of thought, and lots of windshield time to think about it, I decided if there is one thing, okay maybe two things, that are really important to our kids today, it’s that they become self-directed and that they are complex problem solvers. I’ll be the first to admit that there are other very important behaviors that our kids need to be successful at as adults. But I’m pretty convinced that if kids are self directed and a complex problem solvers their chances of success are enhanced greatly.

Self directedness is that characteristic that every employer and business owners is looking for. They want individuals that they don’t have to tell every single step to. I was visiting with the manager lately that told me if he hired an employee and had to tell them everything to do, he might as well do it himself. And in the 21st century being a self-directed learner may be the single most important thing.

The rate of change in society today is phenomenal! New information, new knowledge, new techniques, and new thinking appeared daily. This means that an individual who is able to be a self-directed learner has a huge huge advantage in the workplace. And the learning will never end for our kids.

But just being self-directed isn’t enough, our kids will also have to have the ability to solve complex problems. And by complex I don’t mean word problems …  if two trains leave at the same time, one from Chicago …  you get the point … I mean problems that involve multiple disciplines and domains. I become aware lately at ESSDACK how integrated technology and web solutions are  in every problem we address.

So when I watch our employees, especially new employees, it is obvious to me that these two characteristics are essential. In the book Now Discover Your Strengths,  Marcus Buckingham points out that if you give a task to an individual and the first question they ask is, “How do I do it?”, you have the wrong person doing the job. Individuals can have lots of knowledge  but if they are unable to map a course on their own to use that information, especially in new and unique ways, to solve problems, they are of little use in the workplace. –  Steve Wyckoff

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