A couple of weeks ago, we went to Kidzania for Little Bug's birthday present. One of the professions he chose to do was a package courier, working together in a team of 3 kids along with 2 older, maybe 7 or 8 year olds. They were given a destination for the delivery--a tenant somewhere within the Kidzania town area. As they rushed off pushing their delivery carts, I followed a bit behind and casually asked where they were headed. They told me their destination and i just followed, eager to see how fast they would make the delivery (of course, i knew the destination already). For about 5-10 minutes, the were scurrying around the town streets, looking around for the destination. I couldn't help asking the older kids if they knew where to go, and they just laughed and said so innocenltly, "no". OMG.
They were probably in 2nd grade or so.. but they didn't realize that they had a problem---a challenge to solve. And they were doing nothing about it, just giggling and running around. Not wanting to waste precious time (if you've been to Kidzania, you know what i'm talking about) and just feeling bad for Little Bug running around in circles and not being heard by them, i told them to go back to the delivery "office" and to ask again about the location. The guy repeated his instructions and also gave them explicit directions, again, on how to get there. Finally!
So, this was an eye opener for me... these older kids should've had some sense of "real world" problem solving and initiative, but they were completely "blank" and just plain unaware of their situation. Why??
For any reason, i realized that the "what" breadth of facts that a kid knows just won't matter at all if they're equally clueless on what to do with what information they have, no matter the amount. And without an inquisitive atitude, how can they overcome problems/challenges, no matter how simple?
So with that experience, I started to emphasize a more explicit problem-solving approach with Little Bug in our daily lives. If he asks something, i start to ask him "how would you find the answer to that question, without asking me? What resources could you use? How would you use them?"
Before this, I would just usually ask him, "What do you think?" So he can think creatively and then I would comment on his answer. Now, it's more step-by-step and I try to get his understanding of thw challenges or problem he is facing.
Kids nowadays have Google search, books, and all sorts of sources of information at their fingertips. We just have to make sure they can see the problem or challenge that they face, especially when it's right under their nose.