problem solving 101

June 24, 2009

As I mentioned last week, today we are a stop for the Post2Post book tour. The featured book is Problem Solving 101: A Simple Book for Smart People, by Ken Watnabe.

I’ve alluded to it before — I think I find as much inspiration in books written for children as I do in books written for ‘grown-ups’. Perhaps it is because the tone helps the reader, or at least me, put down our guard enough to open ourselves up to what the content might have to say to us.

The same holds true for Problem Solving 101. It was originally written for schoolchildren in Japan. Because of this, the examples might seem a little silly, and the illustrations are, well, whimsical. But all of this only helps to make the message more appealing. So appealing, in fact, that the book quickly became popular with adults in Japan as well.

The story behind the book that is as interesting to me as the book itself. Ken Watanabe was a consultant in a global firm. But as Japan felt the need to rework their educational system to move from memorization to developing more critical thinking skills, Ken wanted to do his part. This book is the result. It comes out of his hope, and desire, that he might be able to make a significant impact for the common good.

For some, this book will a big help. Even in schools in the USA, critical thinking skills aren’t fully developed, and this book will be of great value. For others, Problem Solving 101 might seem overly simple. That was my early impression, but as I continued to work through it, I was challenged to rethink how I approach some of the challenges I face in my own life.

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