If you are a mathematician or explorer you live for problems. Solutions are what you search for but problems are your reason for living. This is at odds with most people’s reaction to what they perceive as a problem though. Even other words that could be used to sell the idea better (challenge springs to mind) are not the kind of words that give the impression of enjoyment or excitement. So perhaps that is my first problem. I need some kind of language that better represents the key concept that this blog will tackle.
I was recently chatting with a couple of sisters who are both artists. Charlene rejected the idea that her art was a form of problem solving but later that evening her sister talked about how she enjoyed battling with the actual materials, finding ways to form it the way she wanted.
In maths there is straight arithmetic and following procedures which has nothing to do with problem solving and this is the part some people enjoy. It feels good to answer questions that seemed out of reach before. But it cannot compare with looking for your own methods and testing your ideas. Even better if you discover the problem itself.
So analysing problems, inventing problems, discussing problems and trying to tease problems out of solutions… and what ever else comes out of problems.
Danny Brown’s Squeaktime.com started a day or two after I decided to do this blog. It deals with a very similar area in some posts. If you are interested in problem solving I highly recommend it.