Wicked Problems of Practice

A Bostonian had to have come up with the term “wicked problem,” right? I do love Boston. But I digress even before I begin…

Let’s start over and begin by quoting the brilliant Albert Einstein, who said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” That quote encompasses and explains the concept of the Wicked Problem.

The reading explained how standard problem-solving approaches can contribute to great wickedness and I think this makes perfect sense. It also brings to mind what has been repeated throughout our face to face time. We must “think like there is no box.” We need creative and innovative troubleshooting skills as we work to improve those nasty wicked problems.

I feel like this “good enough” idea is becoming more and more prevalent in our education system, an area that is in dire need for must improvement. “Good enough” adds to the problem and in some ways is the reason why the problems continue to exist. Doesn’t “good enough” suggest that something is adequate for the circumstance? Is that what we are looking for in education? Adequate? I know that we can’t solve the Wicked Problems but I look at it in the same way I look at New Years Resolutions – you work towards something and you are better off at the end than when you began. Improvement. Isn’t that what we are all striving for?

It was/is a challenge for me to  think about a Wicked Problem I want to tackle. Without having a classroom to call home or to have much experience under my belt, most of my Wicked Problems are theoretical and there isn’t much for the practical understanding of the problem.

Wicked Problem: Raising awareness and teaching moral development, character education, and positive psychology.

Explanation

So many teachers have said that students are progressively getting worse in terms of morality and respect.  They show disregard for other people and things that do not belong to them. Student lack of respect for authority, their peers, and even for themselves seem to be escalating. This does not seem unique to the students and parents, teachers, administration all play a part. Somewhere along the way we lost the importance of being civic-minded, moral, healthy, respectful, and virtuous individuals who engage in community.

Key Emphasis

Maybe I should outline my ideas based on TPACK to make things easier and more concrete.

Technology

  • analyzing how technology is currently being used to promote or hinder moral practices
  • generating ideas and practicing how technology can be used to promote moral practices
  • using technology as a way to demonstrate real life instances
  • using technology as a way to practice and spread the word of right moral practices [making a difference]
  • creating and implementing a school campaign on a moral cause utilizing technology

Pedagogy

  • Higher-Order Thinking [transforming information and ideas]
  • Substantive Conversation [dialoguing, synthesizing, etc]
  • Student-Directed as well as practicing inclusivity & group identity
  • Active Citizenship [connecting students to their community]
  • Problem-Based Learning [illustrating -> teaching -> practicing -> reflecting] – school & community projects

Content

  • readings and excerpts about moral psychology/character education/positive psychology
  • information texts about non-profit organizations & engaged citizenship
  • videos, music, media scrutiny about their message

My concerns and how you can assist me…

As I write all this down, it feels like a lesson plan. There are so many great ideas swimming around in my head and I feel like because this is an area that I am really passionate about, I am getting a little lost and maybe getting overly zealous. The outcome I would like to have with this is to instill respect, ownership, and the belief that one person can make a difference in each student. Practically speaking I know that this problem will not go away and that it will be met with resistance, but that again is what a Wicker Problem is, correct? We can do something to try and make things a little bit better and that is where we start.

Thoughts? Ideas? Concerns? Hesitations? Anything will help! Thank you everyone!

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2 responses to “Wicked Problems of Practice

  1. Annie great idea! I have tried to use technology to help with this very same issue a few times. One time I had students create a comic strip online that showed “how to” follow a specific rule and then “how not to”. They had fun with this. I also did a lesson on bullying. I used videos from YouTube and we had an in-class discussion. Next, students had to come up with a “thick question” about bullying. They each made a WallWisher that had their question on it. They then answered each other’s questions and the owner made a Wordle out of the responses. I wish I would have had my students display these around the school but we didn’t have a color printer! Just some ideas!

  2. Hi Annie,

    I love the focus of your wicked problem! Art Vlahon, a retired teacher I know had this focus of as one of his main priorities in teaching. He was beloved by his students, and continues to inspire them as adults. His passion and excellence are well known, as he is one of the teachers pictured on the front of Harry Wong’s book “The First Days of School”. Many of the practices he suggests when we speak are represented in the book – I highly recommend it, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience in class. By the way – he took a technology class here at MSU many years ago and was an early adopter of technological innovations!

    Some of the things he and I talk about aren’t stressed in Harry Wong’s book. Perhaps using technology to address these would help you solve your wicked problem.

    Everyone wants to know they are loved. Let your students know you love them. Love is spelled TIME. Use technology to allow yourself more time with each student.

    Treat all students equally. Many students, especially those who struggle feel like they are not as good as someone else, and don’t want to risk appearing as less competent than their friends. Find a way to use technology to give every student a chance to succeed in your class every day.

    Hold students accountable for their actions. Praise in Public, but reprimand in Private. Never embarrass a student in front of their peers. I’m not sure how to use technology for this one, but it’s important.

    I think you’re a super person and wish you good luck in your career as a super educator!

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