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Mason City residents help train Turkish teachers

Tom and Deb Woythal of Mason City

by Jennifer Golle –

Mason City residents Tom and Deb Woythal presented a two-day training program in Instanbul, Turkey, to 55 Turkish teachers on behalf of the Future Problem Solving Program International which is headquartered in Melbourne, Florida. As guests of the Ustun Zekalilar Enstitusu, the Woythals were invited to train teachers, administrators, university personnel and parents on October 13 and 14 at Sefir University in Instanbul, the Anatolian side of the city. Institute personnel received training to become evaluators in order to begin evaluating their own students’ work on October 15.

The Future Problem Solving Program (FPS) is an educational program that stimulates critical and creative thinking skills, encourages students to develop a vision for the future, and prepares students for leadership roles. Future Problem Solving Program International involves thousands of students annually from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, and the United States. In 2011 Turkey and India were welcomed as new mentored areas. Deb is the mentor through the Iowa FPS Program for Portugal, the UK, Turkey and India.

Trainees in Turkey

The Iowa Future Problem Solving Program is active in many North Iowa schools including Britt, Central Springs, Dike-New Hartford, Forest City, Mason City, Nashua-Plainfield, Northwood-Kensett, Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock, Ventura, and West Hancock. Home-schooled students are also welcome to take part.

The FPS program began in 1974 as a way of helping capable students think more creatively and productively about critical issues. Students learn and apply the six-step, creative problem-solving process to complex social, political, scientific, economic and technological issues.

The first two problem scenarios presented to students each year consist of practice problems.  Students may submit their packets for evaluation and constructive feedback by trained evaluators. The third topic, the qualifying problem, is competitive and determines which teams which will be invited to participate in the State Bowl. Beyond State Bowl, winning competitors may advance to the international level.

The Iowa FPS program offers the following options:

• Team Global Issues Problem Solving

• Individual Global Issues Problem Solving

• Scenario Writing

• Action-based Problem Solving

• Community Problem Solving/Team

• Community Problem Solving/Individual

In team Global Issues Problem Solving, four-member teams research and apply the FPS process
to relevant topics chosen by FPS team members worldwide and their coaches.

Team members work creatively and collaboratively on this six-step process:

1. Identify challenges related to the future scene.

2. Select an underlying problem.

3. Produce solutions to the underlying problem.

4. Create criteria to evaluate solutions.

5. Using a grid format, evaluate solutions.

6. Develop an Action Plan for the best solution.

Teams are divided into three divisions: Junior Division (grades 4-6); Middle Division (grades 7-9); and the Senior Division, (grades 10-12).

The goal of Future Problem Solving is to teach students HOW to think, not what to think.

If you are interested in more information regarding the Iowa Future Problem Solvers program, please contact Karen Dadisman, AEA 267, at 1-800-392-6640, ext. 2293 or via email at

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