The difference by definition:

  • A closed-ended problem is a problem that only has one solution leading to one answer. Typical closed ended problems are text book questions leading you to the answers that are given in the preceding chapter, what kind of a shampoo to buy (cleverly disguised as an open-ended problem), which president to choose, …
  • An open-ended problem has several solutions to leading to several different answers. What should we play? What should I do? How should I invest?

Children are naturally good at open-ended questions. Adults less so. Many adults prefer closed-ended problems out of habit. They want to know how high to jump but do not want to consider the possibility of not jumping.

Also note that:

  • For closed ended problems, whoever controls the questions controls the answers.
  • For open ended problems, whoever controls the answers controls the question.

Neither of these are good. You have probably experienced the first from people who don’t know anything and so they like to ask lots of questions. If they can keep you on the defensive, where you don’t have the chance to ask a question, they don’t have to answer any questions. The second is the problem when we only look for problems for which we already know the answer.

An educated person should be able to ask questions and answer them.

A trained person should only be able to answer them (or seek answers).

Which one are you?

Daily Yakeize: Spending Money Wisely @ Canadian Finance Blog, Ignore Social Norms and Save More @ Engineer Your Finances, & Why it’s Frugal to live in Arizona @ Ultimate Money Blog

Originally posted 2010-03-21 08:15:08.