A Short Reading on Problem Solving

On August 4th, 2003, right before the start of school that year, I ran across an interesting article highlihgted on the firt page of the New York Times: Brainstorm to Breakthrough: A Surgical Procedure is Born. Since then, I have introduced and discussed this article during my first few lectures (I primarily teach freshmen) every semester. The article discusses the history of a simple operation for treating "Short Bowel Syndrome."

It comprises many interesting educational themes that resonate with me:

The article is of moderate size, but easy to read. It illustrates a common pattern: first an idea is dismissed; eventually it is seriously examined; finally it is thought obvious -and no one can understand why it wasn't discovered sooner. By observing this pattern we might be able to avoid it -although as humans, the odds are against us.