Schools Should Focus On Progress, Not Finding Problems
Oct 2022

Schools Should Focus On Progress, Not Finding Problems

A new skirmish is emerging in education reform.

Some want students to not only learn how to solve problems, but also how to find them. Others fear that training students to seek out problems is creating ruinous pessimism.

There’s a better way forward that splits the difference between the two camps. It relies on ensuring that students develop agency—not learned helplessness—by seeking to make progress in the mold of an American ideal.

My new book, “From Reopen to Reinvent,” makes the case that schools need to help students learn coherent sequences of content, as well as habits of success and skills like problem solving. One of the first pushbacks on the skills I listed, however, was from a friendly critic who said I had left out the importance of students learning to be “problem seekers” or “problem finders.”


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