Wicked Problem

This was a collaborative project which included Jon Gere, LaShawn Hanes, Alexis Miller and myself.

From  The Future of Education:

The 2013 NMC Horizon Project Summit Communiqué 

“Rethink what it means to teach, and reinvent everything about teaching.

All of our notions about teaching were developed for eras in which the oral tradition was the main way that knowledge was transmitted from one generation to the next. Libraries existed, but only the very lucky few had access to the kinds of resources that virtually all of us take for granted today. When most any practical question can be answered in microseconds via the network, and in most cases, with a variety of perspectives and viewpoints which also included —what is the role of the venerated teacher? What are the defining attributes of the teachers we need to help the next generations build on (or fix) the work we did? What can and should be the key competencies of a teacher? We know we need education overall to be more experiential and more hands – on. We need to be emphasizing good choices, and ethical decisions. Learning must be global, and more based in the realities of the world as it is. It should be more authentic. What we do not know is how to prepare people to be successful with these very different kinds of skills, and that makes this a wicked problem.”

  We understood that education has been modeled after the “factory” mentality.  That is, our schools were set up like factories where students’ unifying thread was their date of birth.  Along with mass production came mass education and a “one-size-fits all” approach.  Our wicked problem of “Rethinking Teaching” for the 21st century encompassed four components:

  • Best instructional practices
  • Connectedness of learning in their relationships with teacher and other classmates
  • Intrinsic Motivation
  • Student’s role in their own learning

Please take a look at our Voicethread for a further analysis of these four components.


According to the Charlotte Danielson’s MET (Measures of Effective Teaching) report, more effective teachers have better results with their students.  One component of a highly effective teacher lies in her ability to create a culture of learning in her classroom and to establish a rapport of respect.  Danielson defines this as:

  • Classroom interactions among the teacher and individual students are highly respectful, reflecting genuine warmth and caring and sensitivity to students as individuals. (Connected relationships)

  • Students exhibit respect for the teacher and contribute to high levels of civil interaction between all members of the class. The net result of interactions is that of connections with students as individuals.(Students’ role in their own learning)

  • The classroom culture is a cognitively vibrant place, characterized by a shared belief in the importance of learning. The teacher conveys high expectations for learning by all students and insists on hard work. (Best Teaching Practices)

  • Students assume responsibility for high quality by initiating improvements, making revisions, adding detail, and/or helping peers. (Intrinsic Motivation)


To sum things up, it takes a very skilled teacher to establish rapport and create a culture of learning in his/her classroom.  It is a special brand of “magic” that the teacher creates to engage the learner, motivate and make learning soar!  Teachers are the difference.  If teachers take these four components that we have discussed and utilize what we know in each other these areas, we can make a difference in education and solve this wicked problem.  It will not happen overnight and it will be a lot of hard work but it is possible to change the face of education if we all work together towards the same goal.  As referred to by James Gee it takes “Grit . . . an invented term that means perseverance and passion of the sort necessary for the ‘persistence past failure’ through long hours of practice.”


Danielson, C. (n.d.). The Danielson Group. Research on the Framework for Teaching. Retrieved from http://www.danielsongroup.org/article.aspx?page=fftresearch

Gee, J. P. (n.d.). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning.

http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2013-Horizon-Project-Summit-Communique.pdf. (n.d.).


One thought on “Wicked Problem

  1. Pingback: Chemical Massacre In Syria: A Former UN Disarmament Commissioner’s View – Social Europe Journal « Dr Alf's Blog

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