Thursday, 19 April 2012

Problem Solving

Who would have thought that our arithmetic skills are useful outside of the classroom? Around the world many students shun the concept of utilizing their arithmetic skills throughout their daily lives. Not everyone enjoys solving problems; but those few individuals who embrace the challenge of solving problems are revolutionizing the world one day at a time. It is through solving problems that we create a better place to live. Let us explore how you can begin solving problems today.

The truth of the matter is that no one enjoys problems. I recall sitting in class listening to my lecturer who spoke about solving problems. He articulated that “people should find a problem to solve everyday.” I thought to myself “why would I want to find a problem and solve it?” Not everyone can deal with as simple mishap that may occur each day in their lives. Sometime later I realized what my lecturer was getting at. Sometimes we “limit” our minds to certain possibilities. Instead of listening to what was being said and reasoning it out, block out the very concept of visualizing how to find ways to solve problems.

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Science student Jason Black (right) explains a method to Phillip Paulwell - file

Always be open minded. No one enjoys stress. However, from that concept you can decide to make life easier. Allow me to reflect on one such problem solver; Alexander Graham Bell, an eminent scientist, inventor, engineer, and innovator, who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone. His father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech, and both his mother and wife were deaf. These conditions propelled Bell's life's work. His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices which eventually culminated in Bell being awarded the first US patent for the telephone in 1876. Alexander saw a problem and he solved it.

If you observe the biography of most successful persons, you will realize that their successes started with pure observation and a problem solving mentality. Take Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook and Jane McGonigal, world renowned game designer, for example. These individuals saw a need and they aimed to solve it. 

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is an American computer programmer and internet entrepreneur. He is best known for co-creating the social networking site Facebook, of which he is chief executive. This site was created based on his knowledge of computer programming and his psychology intelligence. It was co-founded as a private company in 2004 by Zuckerberg and classmates Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes while they were students at Harvard University. In 2010, Zuckerberg was named Time magazine's Person of the Year. As of 2011, his personal wealth was estimated to be $17.5 billion making him one of the world's youngest billionaires. 

Jane McGonigal is a game designer, game researcher, and author, specializing in pervasive gaming and alternate reality games. McGonigal has been called "the current public face of gamification." She writes and speaks about alternate reality games and massively multiplayer online gaming, especially the way that collective intelligence can be generated and utilized as a means for improving the quality of human life or working towards the solution of social ills. She has stated that gaming should be moving "towards Nobel Prizes." In 2006, she was named to the MIT Technology Review TR35 as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35. 

What problem can you solve today? It doesn’t have to be as strategic and complex as what Mark and Jane has done. Take a look around you, what could be improved? I believe that it first begins in the mind. Whatever we can perceive, we can achieve.

Mikki Clarke