The Importance of Problem-Solving


The days of children simply regurgitating what they learn from textbooks and lectures are over. In a world where digital transformation and rapid change are ever present, it’s essential that the graduates of tomorrow are able to think on their feet and overcome novel challenges.

In fact, according to the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs, the top 10 employability skills of 2021 were:

  1. Communication
  2. Initiative
  3. Adaptability
  4. Problem-solving
  5. Collaboration
  6. Time management
  7. Emotional intelligence
  8. Eagerness to learn and evolve
  9. Creativity
  10. Project management

This particular skill set is also crucial for child development, independence, and maturity. By incorporating learning these skills into the classroom, students are free to develop in a controlled, safe environment, where they can be coached by an experienced educator.

Ultimately, access to education is the starting block for a successful future, and problem-solving is an essential facet of that future.

What are problem-solving skills?

Problem-solving is a test of our ability to assess situations and analyse information. It’s the skill that regularly crosses over between our professional and personal lives. Many things we encounter on a daily basis require problem-solving skills, such as commuting to work, meeting personal obligations, and completing a task presented to us by our employer.

Many definitions of ‘problem-solving’ stipulate that the challenge often doesn’t have an obvious solution.

Good problem-solving-skills allow us to cope with setbacks and resolve conflict. When a student harnesses their problem-solving skills during a test or challenging task, they can ask themselves questions such as:

  • What makes this situation so challenging?
  • Do I have the knowledge to tackle this problem?
  • Who, or what, can help me resolve this?

Problem-solving skills allow students to take a methodical approach to learning, which then translates to real-world scenarios. We’ve explored the benefits of this below.

The benefits of learning problem-solving skills

The safe space of the classroom allows students to grapple with the necessary trial and error of developing their problem-solving skills. After achieving a desirable result, students will have this new sense of independence and confidence which they can transfer to real-world scenarios. Increased confidence and independence are just two of the many benefits that come with learning problem-solving skills.

Another benefit is improved academic performance. It has long been established that students with sharper problem-solving skills do better when faced with a challenging task. This could be as a result that students are able to address the problem with a calm and clear head, relying on their learned skill set. It also allows them to see things like exams and homework as problems to solve, rather than stressful, anxiety-inducing events.

Solving problems using creative techniques provide students with tangible evidence that acting with their own autonomy can work, which will instantly improve their confidence.

It can also improve a student's career readiness. Future roles will only become more problem-solving based as we go further into the digital transformation and tackle issues like poverty, climate change, obesity, overpopulation, and disease.

When presenting students with a problem that they can only solve with the help of other students, educators will be actively demonstrating the importance of collaboration. During this process, students will hone their communication, teamwork, listening, and empathy skills.

In a nutshell, incorporating problem-solving into education encourages students to become curious, motivated, and innovative, a winning combination for employability, and for the future of our planet.

How can educators teach students problem-solving skills?

So, how do you easily incorporate teaching problem-solving skills into the classroom? Our helpful ebook provides 21 tips for teaching problem-solving skills in middle and high school STEAM lessons.

Download the free ebook.