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# WHATS THE PROBLEM DISCUSION 1

WHATS THE PROBLEM DISCUSION 1. Week 1: Name That Problem!
Note: To begin this week, review the following media piece. For a citation of this media piece, refer to this week’s Learning Resources.
As you begin this week, consider how you make sense of the problems in your life. How do you identify a problem? Would someone else have a different perspective concerning your problem? Problems do not typically arrive in tidy, organized packages, nor do they arrive at convenient times. Whether your problems are complex or simple, well defined or messy, this unit will help you begin to analyze the nature of problems and apply analytic and creative approaches to those problems.
Learning Objectives
Students will:

Analyze perspectives of problems
Apply approaches to problem solving
Construct problem statements
Analyze problems
Analyze insights related to problem solving

Discussion: What Do You Think? Identify the Problem
Note: Please read the Introduction to all Discussions. Then proceed to participate in the required Discussion A, and your choice of Discussion B or C. There is also an Optional Open Forum you may participate in at any time.
Discussion Introduction (Applies to Discussions A, B, and C)
Have you ever had a problem that someone else did not understand? Or you may have described a particular problem to a friend only to discover that he or she viewed the problem quite differently. An important skill in problem solving is the ability to identify other individuals or organizations connected to the problem and to consider their perspectives.
Consider the multiple perspectives in the following ancient parable. For our purposes, consider the elephant the “problem.” Each blind man describes his perception of the elephant:
The Blind Men and the Elephant

John Godfrey Saxe (1816–1887)
Based on an ancient anonymous parable)

It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant, though all of them were blind,
That each by observation, might satisfy his mind.
The First approached the Elephant, and happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant is very like a WALL!”
The Second, feeling of the tusk, cried, “Ho, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp? To me ‘tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant is very like a SPEAR!”
The Third approached the animal, and happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands, thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant is very like a SNAKE!”
The Fourth reached out an eager hand, and felt about the knee
“What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain,” quoth he:
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant is very like a TREE!”
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant is very like a FAN!”
The Sixth no sooner had begun
Than seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a ROPE!”
And so these men of Indostan disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!
This parable helps to illustrate how multiple individuals can possess diverse and varied perspectives of the same issue. For this week’s Discussions, you identify and discuss problems in scenarios and consider the multiple perspectives and approaches of different individuals. To prepare for these Discussions, be sure to review the Problem-Solving Guidance Handout, focusing on pages 1 and 2 that address differing perspectives and approaches to problems.
Credit for graphic: Microsoft Corporation (Producer). MP900430836 [Elephant photo]. Retrieved October 2nd, 2013, from: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=elephant&ex=2#ai:MP900430836|
Discussion A (Required for all students)
Scenario:
Your 14-year-old niece, Tiffany, is associating with a group in school that is having a negative and, in your opinion, a possibly dangerous effect on her. Her grades are going down, she is not doing her assigned work around the house, and she displays increasing disrespect in your interactions with her. There is a disagreement among the adults in her house as to what the problem is and the approach that should be taken to deal with it. These adults include Tiffany’s mother, her maternal grandmother, and her 24-year-old brother. Consider how you as Tiffany’s aunt or uncle and the adults in her home might view this problem.
Identify and explain the problem from two different perspectives, one perspective being your own (if Tiffany were your niece), and the perspective of one of the other individuals mentioned in the scenario. Suggest the approaches these two individuals might take to address the issue based on their different perspectives.
By Day 3
Post a minimum of 100 words to Discussion Question A.
Be sure to support your ideas by connecting them to at least one of this week’s Learning Resources. Additionally, you may optto include an academic resource you have identified or something you have read, heard, seen, or experienced.
By Day 5
Respond to the posts of at least two different colleagues. One must be a response to a colleague’s post about the question you did not select. Respond in one of the following ways:

Discussion B (Select B or C)
Scenario:
In the 1990s, Mayor Giuliani of New York City addressed a rising crime rate that threatened the quality of life and reputation of the city (Boland, 2003). One of the foundations of Giuliani’s campaign was to shut down petty crimes and nuisances. He believed that “strictly enforcing laws against smaller crimes” (Boland, 2003, para. 3) strengthened communities and discouraged more serious crimes.

Consider the New York City crime rate problem from the viewpoint of one of the stakeholders or participants in the city’s life—for example, merchants, police, residents, politicians, and entertainers—as well your own perspective if you were a tourist in New York City.
Describe the problem from your perspective as a tourist in New York City and from the perspective of one other stakeholder or participant in the city’s life. Then, explain your approach to the problem, as a tourist. Also, explain an approach the stakeholder you identified might take.
By Day 3
Post a minimum of 100 words to your choice of Discussion Question B.
Be sure to support your ideas by connecting them to at least one of this week’s Learning Resources. Additionally, you may optto include an academic resource you have identified or something you have read, heard, seen, or experienced.
By Day 5
Respond to the posts of at least two different colleagues. One must be a response to a colleague’s post about the question you did not select. Respond in the one of the following ways:

Discussion C (Select B or C)
Scenario:
In the 1990s, Mayor Giuliani of New York City addressed a rising crime rate that threatened the quality of life and reputation of the city (Boland, 2003). One of the foundations of Giuliani’s campaign was to shut down petty crimes and nuisances. He believed that “strictly enforcing laws against smaller crimes” (Boland, 2003, para. 3) strengthened communities and discouraged more serious crimes.

Consider the New York City crime rate problem from the viewpoint of one of the stakeholders or participants in the city’s life—for example, merchants, police, residents, politicians, and entertainers—as well your own perspective if you were a tourist in New York City.
Describe the problem from your perspective as a tourist in New York City and from the perspective of one other stakeholder or participant in the city’s life. Then, explain your approach to the problem, as a tourist. Also, explain an approach the stakeholder you identified might take.
By Day 3
Post a minimum of 100 words to your choice of Discussion Question C.
Be sure to support your ideas by connecting them to at least one of this weeks’s Learning Resources. Additionally, you may optto include an academic resource you have identified or something you have read, heard, seen, or experienced.
By Day 5
Respond to the posts of at least two different colleagues. One must be a response to a colleague’s post about the question you did not select. Respond in the one of the following ways: