What is Future Problem Solving?
Future Problem Solving (hereafter referred to as FPS) is a competitive program for students in grades 4-12 created by Dr. E. Paul Torrance’s belief that it will be the bright students in today’s schools who will be left with the responsibility of solving the complicated confusing problems of the world that adults leave behind. Dr. Torrance believes that early training in problem solving and early exposure to the problems predicted to occur in the next several decades will help the students of today become better equipped to face those crises they will face as adults.
The FPS six-step model serves as the foundation to building dynamic, creative thinking processes and includes:
- Identify Challenges Related to the Topic or Future Scene.
- Select an Underlying Problem.
- Produce Solution Ideas to the Underlying Problem.
- Generate and Select Criteria to Evaluate Solution Ideas.
- Evaluate Solution Ideas to Determine the Better Action Plan.
- Develop the Action Plan.
What kind of problem solving activities does FPS offer?
1. Team Problem Solving
Teams of future problem solvers are composed of four students from grades 4-6 (called the junior division), grades 7-9 (called the middle division) and grades 10-12 (called the senior division). Each team which is enrolled in the FPS competition is expected to “solve” three “future” problems a year using a method called the Osborne-Parnes problem-solving method.
2. Individual Problem Solving
3. Community Problem Solving
Education must prepare students to face the world of tomorrow. Problem solving through community service does just that. Students in this component of the FPS program apply problem-solving skills to an existing problem in their school, community or state. After identifying a problem situation, teams use the FPS process to develop a plan of action and then implement this plan. In effect, problem solving through community service bridges the gap between school and the real world.
4. Scenario Writing
Encouraging creativity, scenario writing allows an individual writer to create a futuristic short story based on one of the five FPS topics. Students develop and polish their creative writing skills. FPS scenarios are limited to 1500 words and must be placed 20 years in the future.
5. Action-based Problem Solving
Action-based Problem Solving is a yearlong, non-competitive problem-solving program for the regular classroom. Three components are offered, the primary division for students in grades K-3, the junior division for students in grades 3-6, and the middle division for students in grades 6-9.