Japanese Problem Solving

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    USA Today reports that Problem Solving 101: A Simple Book for Smart People[世界一やさしい問題解決の授業], Ken Watanabe’s* Japanese bestseller about critical thinking, will be released in English:


    Watanabe says he wrote the book in response to a national drumbeat of Japanese criticism about its education system that emphasizes rote memorization. Other Japanese books about problem solving had been written for the business market, but Watanabe made it simple for middle-schoolers. That simplicity struck a chord with business.

    Watanabe went to school in Japan until the eighth grade before moving to Greenwich, Conn. He went on to an economics degree at Yale, a Harvard MBA and a job as a McKinsey consultant. He says U.S. schools don’t focus on memorization and are much better at teaching critical thinking but still fall short in the discipline of problem solving.

    *Note: He is not the famous Ken Watanabe who starred in “The Last Samurai” and “Batman Begins.” The Japanese version of the book lists his full name as Kensuke Watanabe.

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