"What is the problem for which X is the solution?" This is arguably the most useful question to ask in most any situation related to education (or anything else for that matter).
- What is the problem for which computers are the solution?
- What is the problem for which textbooks are the solution?
- What is the problem for which ebooks are the solution?
- What is the problem for which any given novel we choose to teach is the solution?
- What is the problem for which literature circles (or other instructional approaches) are the solution?
It's a demanding question. Every decision we make costs time and money, neither of which we can afford to waste. I get fifty-one minutes and every one needs to count.
If I tell a story about some silly thing I did..if I use PowerPoint instead of the overhead…if we read this text instead of that one—well, all these need to solve a problem and lead to a specific, intended result.
The story solves the problem of how to develop and maintain a relationship with my kids, be human, get them to trust and, I hope, follow me. The PowerPoint solves the problem of how to use color and multiple slides to reveal the information that the overhead does not and which seems most appropriate to the content I am trying to teach. If I choose one story over another, it might be a solution to the problem of how to engage all my kids, or the boys who are not connecting with the unit so far.
Whatever the choice, there should be a defensible reason for it that, in my case, makes an instructional difference.
You get the idea. Next time you are about to make some important decision–about what to teach, how to teach it, which tech solution to use, which book to choose–pause long enough to ask, What is the problem for which this is the solution?