“…the mechanic is thrown back on himself and must make sense of the situation.

Often this sense making entails not so much problem solving as problem finding. When you do the math problems at the back of a chapter in an algebra textbook, you are problem solving. If the chapter is entitled ‘Systems of equations with two unknowns,’ you know exactly which methods to use. In such a constrained situation, the pertinent context in which to view the problem has already been determined, so there is no effort of interpretation required. But in the real world, problems don’t present themselves in this predigested way; usually there is too much information, and it is difficult to know what is pertinent and what isn’t. Knowing what kind of problem you have on hand means knowing what features of the situation can be ignored.”

Matthew B. Crawford: Shop Class as Soulcraft

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