I teach high school math; I sell a product to a market that doesn’t want it,
but is forced by law to buy it!
Maths teacher and campaigner for US maths curriculum reform, Dan Meyer recently gave the above TEDx presentation , “Math class needs a makeover” where he talks about students “aversion to maths problem solving”
I’ve previously written about the importance of mental maths skills; being able to recall arithmetic facts with ease is an important life skill, but of equal, if not greater importance is the art of maths problem solving; taking a real life problem and turning it into a maths problem which can then either be solved, or at least an approximate answer worked out.
Mr Maths Insider is great at throwing out questions to our kids such as, “How can we work out how many atoms there are in the Universe”, questions where the process of working out the answer is more important than the answer itself, and where the relevance of maths can be more easily seen.
Dan Meyer has lots of great stripped down maths problems on his website, they are great but are mainly designed for maths teachers to use in class.
For a quick way of practicing solving maths problems at home, try giving this dose of problem solving medicine:
- Grab any maths book or maths website which has maths problem solving questions.
- Sit down for 5, 10 or 15mins, set a timer, and looking at some questions, work out:
- what the question is asking and
- what maths is needed to solve it.
- Don’t work out the answer.
- Move on to the next question.
Here we’re trying to separate the problem solving aspect from the arithmetic aspect which allows your child to focus on the art of problem solving.
Repeat daily or weekly as time allows.
Tell me your ideas to help your child improve their maths problem solving skills!