Blog 1: Oh Where The Wicked Things Are

A massive appeal to adventure is the sense of the unknown, venturing where one has not been before. A real-life example has been seen in real life with Lewis and Clark’s adventures. In fiction, famous stories such as The Chronicles of Narniashowed with that trope. These stories, whether nonfiction or fiction, portray the beauty of exploring what has not been before. I often like to romanticize my life for the fun of it. The instance in reference is when I decided to take this course. I consider the trope of “adventure into the unknown” appropriate to how I felt going into my first class of this course. I usually start every semester with some prior knowledge of my college classes, but I was excited to start Wicked Problems without it. This class, however, was not at all what I had been told about. “Wicked Problems of Industrial Practice” sounds like it would modestly discuss difficulties with business and possibly the economy within work industries. However, I have learned that the course teaches more than my surface-level assumptions may suggest. From the first day on January 10th, I was immediately overwhelmed by how much depth there was to the course. We had not even started for a day, yet I was swamped with stress. Honestly, I thought it was a course I would worry about briefly. What brought my attention to the seriousness of the class was when we began watching the film the 11th Hour. The beginning scenes of industrialism at its worst and all the ruin was a wake-up call to the meaning of Wicked Problems. The images were striking and very much terrifying. If I had not understood what “wicked problems” meant before, I emphatically began to realize what it was then. After the first lecture, I began to contemplate what wicked problems were and why they mattered. 

Coming into this class, I had no prior knowledge of what a wicked problem is. The term was unfamiliar and made me uncomfortable at the fact I did not understand it. Nowadays, the definition of a wicked problem is not something I can thoroughly explain, but I have come to understand better. Coming to this position, however feeble, was not effortless. The obvious part of what brought the process to endure was paying attention and doing my work. The matter with this course is that you have to be vigilant to comprehend any material. Every assignment, lecture, and discussion has been crucial (to me) to understanding what wicked problems are. This was the intellectual part of comprehension. I had to familiarize myself with the material to strengthen the perception of my idea of what a wicked problem was. This helped me mold my idea of wicked problems and understand why some wicked problems are considered immoral. In the sense of emotion, I believe that understanding a wicked problem through this lens means being able to empathize with why the problem is considered wicked. It means to find the root of evil in the problem and identify how it can be changed for the better. I do not fully understand how to use my heart or body to understand what wicked problems are, but there is time to learn how to do so. The mindfulness practice we now customarily do in class is very relaxing. I believe it helps clear my mind and stress, even to a sleepy relaxed state. My awareness of wicked problems, I believe it helps me to focus on that material. We do it for a reason in class and I believe it’s to help our comprehension of wicked problems. I do not yet understand how it does, but by process of elimination, it must. At most, I can use my intellect for now and look forward to studying more about wicked problems soon.

The word “wicked” likely elicits an image of something evil. People may imagine criminals, villains, or the musical, but they likely do not imagine wicked problems. The subjects that are considered wicked problems are often topics that are treated sterilely and are too complex to straightforwardly explain. Furthermore, they are simply issues people do not reserve much time for unless they’re an advocate or they’re doing a research project. I don’t remember the first times I learned what wicked problems were, but I remember the things I was taught to “solve” them. These solutions were small things I either learned in church or compensation. My church annually did “God’s work” by gathering change cups to donate to blind orphans in Vietnam. It was a race to fill the plastic cups and as a child simply did it for pleasure. In middle school and high school, I donated used clothes, blankets, and nonperishable goods. In middle school, I volunteered at retirement homes, churches, schools, and other places to gain service hours. High school was almost no different. I still volunteered to fill service hours for clubs, such as NHS and FFCLA. In community college, I was expected to do 40 hours for my scholarship requirement. A few instances where I volunteered in the past made me think about what I now know are called wicked problems. Back then, I may have just called them “sad or unfortunate situations.” One of these instances was when I was in my junior year of high school. I was attending a week-long youth camp for my religion. We all boarded a bus to a house that was owned by a recently-widowed elderly woman. Her husband had kept up their yard, but with his passing, there was no one physically able to upkeep it. My group spent a few hours clearing out branches, weeds and raking an immensity of leaves. It was hard, tedious work, but the joy on that elderly lady’s face afterward was worth it. She was in tears, and my heart was struck by how doing good at no cost was worth it. This wasn’t an instance of a wicked problem, but it made me remember compassion is good. In response to developing humbleness and compassion towards wicked problems, I have to admit that it has been built into me. My family taught me to be generous and to give what I have been given by someone else. My relationship with wicked problems is one-sided. It does me no good, but I will do what I can to better it. I still have more to grow as a person and how to react to wicked problems.

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