Saturday, 26 July 2008

Sectors of Maths - Problem Solving (Thinking part)

Problem Solving in maths is the most important skill anyone would like to master. With this skill mastered, maths questions will be a breeze to solve.

They may not be easy themselves, but the process to solve these maths questions will not be difficult when the other sectors of maths are handled well. This problem solving sector comes after the Analyzing sector, which builds up skill in deciding the apprioprate approach to a given maths question.

Problem solving is not done by memorising all the facts and steps in solving maths problems. If it is so, then maths education losses its meaning.

Problem solving sector is aim at creating skill in solving problems using principle and facts related to the given problem. With this problem solving skill picked up through maths education, we will be ready to face any problem not even related to maths!

Problem solving ability involves exploring relationship between all the factual sectors (fractions, geometry, patterns, number usage, and measurement) and analyzing through the process to obtain a decent answer. This mathematical solving skill will be used to expand on other non-mathematical skill like language and presentation know-how.

What can be done to boost up Problem Solving skill in maths education?

Below are some of my suggestions:

1) Case studies on certain unworkable projects. Ask the learners to figure out the problems and come up with as many possible solutions to the problems.

2) Set a goal and allow the maths learners to determine the process to achieve the goal. (e.g. building a table with 2 uneven legs, with maths calculations to support solution)

Problem solving sector encompasses all the skills needed to handle maths quesions. It integrates both the thinking and factual part in maths education.

For children new to formal maths learning, the various factual maths sectors have to be mastered before they can proceed to the thinking part, which requires a certain amount of maturity and self-discipline.

To read other sectors related to this sectors and an overview, visit Sectors of Maths.



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