A Wicked Problem: Reinvent Teaching

A Wicked Problem is a problem in schools with no clean answer.  It is one of those big problems that everyone notices, but no one sees an easy fix or thinks we, in American schools, are in too far to dig ourselves out.  Koehler and Mishra (2008) explain that “Solutions to wicked problems are often difficult to realize (or maybe even recognize) because of complex interdependencies among a large number of contextually bound variables” (p.10). In addition, since everything is constantly changing in education (students’ background, student and teacher growth, technology, district changes, etc.), solutions to Wicked Problems need to also be constantly evolving.  Therefore, one solution cannot be an end-all-be-all fix. A solutions is simply the best option at the time. That’s what makes these problems so wicked, right?!

The 2013 New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Project Summit Communique identified five major Wicked Problems for schools.  My group and I have decided to tackle the problem “Rethink what it means to teach, and reinvent everything about teaching.”   The NMC explains that education needs to be more hands on and experimental.  My group members and I agree that teaching needs to incorporate inquiry-based lessons instead of lecture.  The teacher should act as a the facilitator to take these hands on experiences and discovery to the next level, but should not be the only source of information. Students who engage in discovery-based learning will develop critical thinking skills and carry the content learned into their real lives. In order to create schools with inquiry-based education, schools need to adopt national standards and a balanced school schedule.

We believe that national standards need to be more broad and rely less on facts.  This will give teachers more flexibility to create inquiry-based lessons based off real-life issues. When standards are less based on facts, teachers will not feel like they have to lecture everyday.  Through discovery, students will learn and remember these facts more than they would by memorizing the lecture or cramming before a test.

Finally, we believe that the best way to adjust these standards and adopt a inquiry-based curriculum is to change the school year.  We believe that adopting a balanced school year (4 weeks in school, 2 weeks off) will allow for more time for discovery, collaboration, and project-based learning. In a world where technology is so readily available, students can use technology to collaborate and work through problems.  Therefore, the calendar could even feature slightly shorter time in school to allow for more discussion and discovery online at home.

Overall, we know that schools and teaching need to change.  We also know that students all learn in different ways.  Inquiry-based learning, an elongated year with less summer slide, and broader standards with less facts and more real-life connections will allow students to learn and work through problems at his or her own pace.  From my groups discussion and research, we believe our vision is the best option for schools at this time to solve the Wicked Problem of reinventing learning.

See more of our research and vision in our Blendspace website by clicking here.




Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Ed.),Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) (pp. 3–29). New York: Routledge.

2 thoughts on “A Wicked Problem: Reinvent Teaching

  1. Hi Kelsey- great presentation at the round table, I like the solution your group came up with to reinvent teaching. I really liked how you referenced Finland— but how do we get everyone onboard? how does it benefit all stakeholders? Why have we been doing it the way we have for so long, is it possible to change the public school schedule? What has prevented it from changing?

  2. I think your group did a fantastic job breaking down the different areas to change teaching practices! I think that your topic blends into our topic of innovation in teaching. We also found that allowing more flexibility in teaching and curriculum would help with inquiry based learning. I think it is interesting that you expanded this idea of flexibility in teaching when you proposed the idea for the classroom to have both online and in class experiences. I was wondering if you could give more information about changing the school week to 4 days. I think this could be an area where lots of parents and teachers would have questions.

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