You can’t learn problem-solving from textbooks – allegedly

In a few months’ time we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. The Apollo missions, especially the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, are arguably the greatest ever examples of human beings’ ambition, creativity, problem-solving ability, teamwork and grace under pressure. The average age of the support staff in mission control was  a mere 27. Most of these mission controllers were from an engineering background, and all would have been educated according to the traditional model of engineering education: study and learn the concepts and then solve shed loads of the problems of escalating difficulty listed at the end of each chapter of the course textbook.

If you are to believe those pushing the use of iPads in school because “you can’t learn problem-solving from textbooks”,  then you must presume that the 12 men who walked on the moon did so because of divine intervention. How else could those taught using ‘factory methods’ possibly have had the problem-solving ability to deal with the many crises that threatened the lives of those astronauts as they travelled the half-a-million mile round trip to the moon.

As for the astonishing developments in biomedical sciences that characterised the 20th century, just imagine what we could have achieved if we had iPads and the 21st century skills that iPads would have brought to bear on our children.

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