What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada
Flexibility, or the ability to think flexibly, is sometimes called “cognitive flexibility.” This skill is one of the three main executive functions that serve as the command center of the brain, and is crucial to our ability to solve problems. While some children, especially gifted ones are adept at looking at things from different angles and perspectives, other children, also gifted ones, can be less flexible, as they are likely to focus on accuracy and “being right” or things “being fair.” They can also worry, get anxious and want things to be “perfect.”
As we dive into 2018, Lower Lab Values Flexibility, as a way of extending or shifting our thinking in order to produce a variety of ideas, alternate ways of looking at a problem, or more unique ways of seeing an opportunity. Flexible thinkers see things in different ways and can even find possibilities that break with the norm. Their ideas can be innovative and brave.
A New York Times #1 Best Seller, What Do You Do With a Problem? is a beautifully illustrated(by Mae Besom) story of a young child who is followed around by his problem, which persists and persists, and the longer the problem is avoided, grows and grows. The pictures support the idea of subtle looming into full-blown storminess. Finally, when the child gathers up the courage to face the problem, he discovers that the problem is not what it seemed, and positive outcomes are true possibilities.
While the book does not give its readers a concrete problem and solution, the open-endedness of the story allows for deeper thinking and reflective text-to-self connections.
Some good discussion may be yielded from the following:
- Do you think of yourself as a flexible person? Why or why not?
- Can you think of a time when you had a problem? How did you solve your problem?
Were you or others flexible?
- What kinds of problems do people have? What makes something a big problem? What is a smaller problem? Why is it important to think about the difference?
- In the story, the character said, “And the more I worried, the bigger my problem became.” What do you think this means?
- Why do you think the author chose not to describe a particular problem in the story?
- If you have a plan and it is not going your way, when is it ok to change the plan?
For older students:
- Think about this quote by Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Do you agree or disagree?