Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What they never teach you in schools

After 10 years of handling engineers fresh out of college, I finally came to a conclusion about what is wrong with our schools and colleges.

Yeah, it took that long!

The problem lies with the way thinking is taught.
You have a problem ... solve it ... you get an answer.

More often than not the solution is unique.
And that is because the problem being solved is complete.
You see you don't need to assume anything.
The problem contains all that is required to solev it.

In the world outside colleges, the problems are not complete. In some cases, the bits of information that are floating around are conflicting.

To solve such problems, you need to ...

(a) figure out the bits of information that are incorrect and thus remove the conflict, and
(b) assume information so that the incomplete problem is now complete.

This immediately gives us multiple correct solution to the problems of life. Each solution depends on the assumptions. To determine which of the multiple solutions actually make sense you do not check the solutions. Instead, you verify the assumptions.

How valid are the assumptions?
What is the assumptions change?
Are there assumptions that conflict with other assumptions?
Can I drop an assumption?

And then there is that element of time ...

Can the problem change over time?
Can some of the assumptions change over time?
Do the solutions make sense a few years down the line?

Now tell me when was the last time a college professor asked you to make an assumption and solve a problem?

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