Sunday, November 13, 2011

Solving Real Problems

This blog is intended to provide a platform for dialogue on solutions related to EFFECTIVE LEARNING. While future posts from me will deal with considerations of ideas for solutions, may I suggest that the first order of business must be to identify what the real issue is. This initial effort must be done with all parties involved AND with all parties understanding the positions, concerns, and expectations that the other parties bring to the considerations.

In one of Stephen Covey's books, he raised the suggestion of the search for the THIRD ALTERNATIVE. As I have understood it, the efforts needed must be directed toward not one championed solution, not another championed solution from the other side, but the THIRD ALTERNATIVE - the solution developed together that both sides will agree is better than either solution being championed initially! Often, when I've referred to this approach, I've called it the BETTER SOLUTION - acknowledging the possibility that more than two initial solutions are being championed.

If we think about a learning or disciplinary or whatever problem exists for a student or group of students, there are a number of interested parties: teacher(s), student(s), parents, keeper of the standards or regulations, at a minimum. If the ultimate goal is a solution addressed in motivated efforts by all parties, that solution plan must be the BETTER ALTERNATIVE. The likelihood that any solution imposed by any one party being successful is minimal in my thinking!

So then, what's the approach to finding this third or really better alternative? Fortunately, for all of us, Stephen Covey has a new book that provides more guidance for this effort: "The 3rd Alternative" published by Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster (ISBN 978-1-4516-2626-1) in 2011. I'm only now studying the book; my efforts to date on this book as wel as my experiences with his previous books lead me to alert readers to it now. In the book, he suggests there are FOUR PARADIGMS involved with the search for the third / better alternative: Covey labels them "I see myself," "I see you," "I seek you out," and "I synergize with you." of course the "I" refers to each party; and "you" refers to all of the other parties.

I might suggest you might wish to check out this book. As noted, I have not completed the book as yet; I expect that I will have additional postings related to it. A quote from early in the book that is so important in my thinking: "Do you see them as symbols, or do you see them as real people full of strengths and weaknesses, idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies, amazing gifts and terrific blind spots - just like you?" Covey is discussing the second paradigm (I see you) but alludes to its importance to the first paradigm (I see myself) as well.

IF the problems are to be addressed effectively AND IF there is to be motivated efforts associated with addressing the plan, I believe we interested in and dedicated to effective learning, I believe Covey has much to offer to those efforts. I look forward to your comments.