Posted in Educational Reform

A Solved Problem

“Remember this picture: this is a picture of students in Guinea reading their textbooks at the airport, because this was the only place where they could get light at night to do their schoolwork. It’s a solved technical problem to generate electricity and get it to homes so that students don’t have to go sit at the airport to read their books, and it’s a solved social problem to create rules that can lead to the implementation of those technical systems…

As you run up against the inevitable reactions…, as you think about all of those objections, think about explaining it to one of these kids and telling them why ‘we think the best solution is for you to spend as long as it takes, maybe another thousand years…to wait for your own internal systems of rules to somehow change so that you can get access to the things we take for granted’.”

Paul Romer, “A Theory of History, With an Application

Another example of a solved problem: how to be healthy and live a long life. What we need is not more advanced medical technology, but effective implementation of known principles.

How many problems can you spot around you that have already been solved (somewhere)? I wager that the majority of problems currently identified have been solved by someone, or even many someones. Solving them in principle isn’t the same thing as fixing them for good, though. That’s an implementation problem, which is the next higher order of challenge.

Many, if not most, identified problems already have known solutions. Implementing them is the challenge that is most worthy of our creative attention. That, and identifying new problems.


Dane Dormio is an online tutor and academic coach who specializes in helping all types of students achieve life and academic success, especially homeschooled students and those preparing for STEM careers. More information and resources can be found on his website at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s