Future Problem Solving is an international educational program for students of all ages from P - 12 that focuses on the development of creative thinking skills. In particular, it centres on the skills of problem identification and positive solutions to those problems. Above all, it aims to give young people the skills to design and promote positive futures for the society in which they live.
The aim of Future Problem Solving is essentially to develop critical, creative and futuristic thinking skills. It challenges students to apply their imagination and thinking skills to some of the significant issues facing both the world of today, and the future, equipping them with the skills and vision needed to anticipate, comprehend and solve problems associated with these issues, helping them to have a positive impact in the society of the future.
The challenging materials of the Future Problem Solving Program are designed to help students learn how to think (not what to think). Specifically, they motivate and assist students to:
think more creatively and positively about issues
develop an active interest in the future
improve communication skills (both oral and written)
solve problems using a six-step process
work co-operatively in teams
learn about complex societal issues
develop research skills
think critically and analytically
Although many of the scenarios encountered are based exclusively in the future, the problem solving methods employed are equally applicable to many of the complexities encountered in the world today. The Future Problem Solving Program allows great scope for creative and futuristic thinking and encourages students not only to analyse and synthesise the information they have before them, but to express their ideas in a cohesive, fluent manner. For the successful FPS team, team-work, critical thinking, decision making and time management are all vital skills.
The 'learning-how-to-learn' skills that the program develops are becoming increasingly important in an era of rapid change, especially in the workplace. The availability of information in the future will undoubtedly be so great that the knowledge of 'bare facts' in a certain field will be rendered useless. The advantage, then, in a world of increasing competition, must go to those who can adapt to change most rapidly and be able to produce the most creative, yet logical, ideas. The Future Problem Solving Process enhances such skills.
In order to achieve its goals and objectives, the Future Problem Solving Program offers a number of different options to cater for the different needs of students, schools and other community groups. All of these alternatives encourage creativity amidst teamwork, systematic and critical thought, and the development of a lateral outlook on real-world situations.
The Future Problem Solving Program in Australia is a year-long program in which students learn to address complex scientific and social problems of the future through the use of a creative and comprehensive thinking process. The FPSP takes students beyond memorization. The process challenges students to apply information they have acquired by research to some of the most complex issues facing society. They are asked to think, to make decisions and, in some instances, to carry out their solutions.
The FPSP comprises six parts: the Booklet Program; Scenario Writing; Community Problem Solving; Action-based Problem Solving ; and using FPS as a classroom technique.
These learning options are:
the global issues problem solving program (competitive or non-competitive, team or individual)
scenario writing (individual)
scenario performance (individual)
Community Problem Solving (team or individual)
Action-based Problem Solving
FPS in the classroom
A full overview of the program options offered by the Future Problem Solving Program, including a downloadable copy of the Registration Information Handbook, is provided in Learning Options
The Future Problem Solving Thinking Process
The process used by students in the key options within the program is an adaptation of the process developed by Alex Osborn and Sidney Parnes.
brainstorm challenges and problems related to the topic;
identify an underlying problem;
brainstorm solution ideas to the underlying problem;
develop criteria by which to evaluate the solution ideas;
apply the criteria the solutions to determine the best solution;
and then use the best solution to devise a plan of action to resolve the underlying problem.
The Global Issues Problem Solving (Booklet Program) begins when a school registers one or more teams and finds coaches - usually, but not necessarily, teachers - to work with team members. Coaches and teams work together to learn and practise the skills involved in the six-stage creative problem solving process. They then apply these skills gradually during the year to a series of problem situations on internationally set, significant social, economic, or scientific issues. There are competitive and non-competive options.
Scenario Writing is another component of the multi-faceted Future Problem Solving Program. Students develop and submit pieces of writing containing up to 1500 words. These 'scenarios' are written in short story format, are based on one of the topics chosen for the year and must be set at least twenty years into the future.
Community Problem Solving is a Program where students apply the problem solving process they have learned to real-life problems within their communities. Reports of problem solving projects are evaluated and winners at each of the age divisions may receive invitations to attend the International FPS Conference.
Action-based Problem Solving has been designed specifically for use in Prep-Year 4 classrooms. The whole class works together as a 'team' to complete the challenges that are presented to them. It introduces the classroom teacher and students to creative problem-solving and higher-level thinking and action skills in a non-threatening environment.challenges that are presented to them. It introduces the classroom teacher and students to creative problem-solving and higher-level thinking and action skills in a non-threatening environment.
An oral storytelling activity for individual students that offers them the opportunity to enlarge, enrich and make more accurate their images of the future. Students are challenged to create a story of between 4-5 minute duration, set at least 20 years in the future, and that arises from any one of the topics set for the year. Submission will take the form of a DVD of the student delivering an oral telling of their story, undertaken in one take without the use of any props or aids, beyond the use of their voice.
Integrated FPS involves using the FPS process as a basis for curriculum development and integrating the process into the mainstream learning program. This can be achieved by using the FPS process and/or Program components within a range of specific subject areas as well as interdisciplinary programs.