Commentary—Preparing for Tomorrow . . . Today: Future Problem Solving

Spring 1993 Masthead

Materials reviewed by Jann Leppien
The University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT

The developers of the Future Problem Solving Program (FPSP) have created a valuable product which coaches, teachers, and other individuals who are directly involved in training activities related to the Future Problem Solving Program in their schools will want to purchase. Preparing for Tomorrow . . . Today is a 45 minute videotape which follows two teams of students through the entire FPS process in detail.

The tape begins with an overview of the program by Dr. James Alvino, the Executive Director of the FPSP. Explanations of each of the 6 steps of the FPS process precede footage of the students working toward their best solutions. Teachers’ comments provide tips, insights, and instruction garnered from years of experience as award-winning coaches. The viewer is encouraged to stop the video and practice each of the steps in a similar fashion to what was observed on the tape. This practice serves as a first-hand experience for the participants to become acquainted with the process, learn how to manage and facilitate a problem-solving team, and fine tune their skills to assist students as they progress through the program.

Many readers are aware that the Future Problem Solving Program is an international educational program designed in 1974 by the creativity pioneer Dr. E. P. Torrance and his wife Pansy. Combining the creative problem solving process developed by Osborn and Parnes and some potential problems of the future, Torrance launched what has become one of America’s largest educational programs. Today an estimated 200,000 students in all fifty states and numerous foreign countries are using the program’s materials.

The FPSP is a year-long program in which teams of four students use a six-step process to solve complex scientific and social problems of the future. During the year, teams work on three problems. At regular intervals throughout the year, the teams mail their work to evaluators, who review the students’ response booklets and return them with suggestions for improvement. From the feedback that the team’s receive and with additional coaching, the students become increasingly more proficient at problem solving. Of the three problems the students complete, the first two are practice problems, and the third problem is competitive and serves as the qualifying problem used to invite schools to state or regional FPS bowls. Winning teams in each of the three grade level divisions, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 at the state FPS Bowls are invited to attend the International Future Problem Solving Conference.

This video is an indispensable training tool for the experienced coach and newcomer alike. The training video can be purchased with additional materials, including a coaches guide to the Future Problem Solving Program; an International FPSP Conference Champions book, showcasing the three 1989 winning teams solutions and evaluations; a program brochure; and a set of handouts and transparencies to accompany the training tape. The transparencies focus on the rules of brainstorming, specific training tips for each step of the FPS process, and a list of categories teachers can use with students to increase their flexibility in generating a variety of possible problems. The video is VHS formatted and can be purchased with or without the supplemental materials. Several price ranges exist, however, the most attractive is the materials package which includes this comprehensive 45 minute training video and a 15 minute videotape summarizing the FPS program and process for $99.95. Both tapes are available without the supplemental materials for $69.95.

The Future Problem Solving Program challenges students in applying information they have learned 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. Now educators can purchase a set of comprehensive materials that can provide the technical assistance to those who shoulder the responsibility for helping their students become the solvers of tomorrow’s problems . . . today.

To receive information about this program, and other FPSP support materials contact: Future Problem Solving Program, 315 West Huron, Suite 140-B, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48103-4203, (313) 998-7663


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