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More on Visual Problem-Solving January 31, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in problem-solving.

This morning, out of curiosity, I did a search on “visual problem-solving,” and lo and behold, lots of people are solving their problems by drawing pictures. There were a number of books on Amazon. The one that most interested me was: Rapid Problem-Solving with Post-It Notes by David Straker. I read the excerpt, and it sounded similar to what I do to figure out learning designs, but instead of using post-it notes, I use 81/2 X 11 sheets of paper.

Also, my colleague, Dan Campbell, pointed out that it seems like my approach works for very visual people, like myself. For him, my paper on the wall approach isn’t structured enough. But he agreed that being able to see relationships between things is often helpful to overcome cognitive load–that overwhelmed feeling you have when you’re trying to work with too much information at once. For Dan, an Excel spreadsheet is all the visual he needs to see relationships. I need color and large spaces to see things clearly.

I’m still intrigued by the idea of solving problems using a Visual approach. Dan mentions trying to solve emotional problems that way. I’m not sure about that, but I think relationship problems are a good candidate for this approach. It would let you look at the situation more objectively and see where and why the conflict was arising.

Anyway, the big “problem” facing me right now is what to do next for my daughter’s education. She likes her current school, but she isn’t challenged enough. So, I think I’ll start putting ideas up on the wall in the hallway and see where it leads us. If nothing else, my daughter will like the idea of taping brightly colored pieces of paper on a wall!



1. Dan - January 31, 2008

“She likes her current school, but she isn’t challenged enough.” I would ask who feels she not being challenged enough – her or you? When does enough become too much? Where is that line where the joy and innocence of childhood lost, never to be recovered? I cannot help thinking of the sadness and pain that “Great Expectations” brought to Pip.

In a book I am currently listening to, South Coast by Nathan Lowell, Two parents are struggling with the dilemma ‘are we doing the right thing?’ One says (and I paraphrase) I don’t know, and by the time we do know it will be too late. For me, this summarizes being a parent.

Both of my children went to public schools (after second grade). We struggled with the same question. They are now both in grad school. I really do not think however that the school was the issue. The real learning happens at home.

2. cjescribano - February 1, 2008

Thanks for the third comment, Dan! I think I owe you a prize or something.

The feeling of being unchallenged definitely comes from my daughter. She finds school very boring. One day, she even came into my office, sobbing, “I’m losing all my skills.” (I don’t know where she gets that Drama Queen thing.) She just switched into public school from a Montessori school, so we knew there would be issues like this. But some of the math she’s learning in 4th grade was taught in 2nd grade in her old school. Everything else seems pretty good. It’s just the math, and the teacher has pulled out a few of the kids and started them on fifth grade math, so they’re accommodating her.

She’s in a special Gifted and Talented program that meets one day a week, and she LOVES that. What I don’t understand is why they don’t just make the whole program like the GT program. They do a lot of creative thinking and problem-solving. It seems like all the kids could benefit from that, not just those that managed to pass a few tests.

As for the joys of childhood, we are VERY lucky to have neighbors two doors down, who like us don’t believe in overscheduling their kids. So, most afternoons, Caitlin plays with them. They make up all kinds of imaginative games and do all those great kids things like playing tag, jumping rope, and doing crafts. That kind of childhood is definitely disappearing, so I’m glad Caitlin has it.

What I really want to figure out is what makes a great education. I have friends with kids in public school, some with kids in private school, and my neighbors home school. The parameters for what makes a great education are very different depending on who you talk to. I just want to use visuals to help figure out specifically for Caitlin what makes a great education.

3. Luke - February 5, 2008

I find that visual problem solving definitely works for me, like Dan, I prefer ‘virtual’ paper.

I find excel a little limiting, so I use ‘Numbers’ instead, but it’s nice to have my problem solving and organising integrated with my email, my address book, my calendar and all that, which is on my computer.

Saying that, I’m not a particularly visual person – I would say my learning style is auditory.

4. Maura - October 21, 2010

I’m right with you on the dilemma about how to best serve [our] daughter[s]. Social development is important and being one with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood carries weight, but at the expense of opportunities for creative and analytical independent thinking (such that is offered in a non-traditional school setting?)

My kids are not unhappy at school, but they certainly are not “unbored” (to coin a terrible word!). There is a lot to love about our local public school. My chief complaints have more to do with the curriculum and the approach to learning, not the staff.

When you’ve got only one shot at your child’s education, setting up a foundation for the rest of their life of learning, is “good enough” really good enough?

5. Visual Thinking Solves Problems | Thinkspiration™ The Inspiration® Software Blog - October 28, 2010

[…] Claudia Escribano, who works in learning and organizational development theory, says on her LifeLongLearningLab blog, “Being able to see relationships between things is often helpful to overcome cognitive […]

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