Monday, 11 August 2008

Ways To Instill Creativity In Maths Teaching

As the saying goes that Teacher are the best role model for students, if the teacher has no creativity in her teaching, will the students follow suit?

There are remarks that maths gives results that are fixed or standard. It is either correct or incorrect answers. By doing maths, it clamps down creativity. It differs from subjects like the Arts or Literature, where flexibility of thoughts are encouraged.

In a way, the remarks are true, but to a certain limit. It all depends on the teaching and objectives of the maths lesson.

To instill creativity, the process of the solution can be made to vary. Getting to the final outcome can be derived through application of different maths tools or techniques. This is possible if the maths problems given are not tied to a specific method. The answers can be open-ended in nature depending on the path the students take.

An example of an open-ended maths question is to ask "What are the numbers that can be formed given a set of 4 fives ?"

This question will stretch the students' mind and understanding of mathematical operation and giving many possible answers.

5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = 20, or

5 x 5 x 5 x 5 = 625, or

5 x 5 + 5 + 5 = 35, and so on ......

This type of questioning opens up the scope and does not confine the answers to a fixed method. The students are free to express their solution as they wish but still applying basic mathematical operations. It helps creativity.

Another way is to create a problem and ask the students to solve the problem using any method or maths theorem they have learned. This is problem-solving questioning.

This method gives the students freedom to select a familiar method or enables them to combine various technique to solve the challenge.

In summary, maths does not necessary clamp down creativity. The questioning can be modified to make the solving flexible and requires the creative juice to get the answers which may be open-ended. It is not the actual answer in this type of creativity-generating maths questions that matters, but the steps in solving the questions or the procedures and tools needed that is the objectives.

Remarks: Do not bored the students, otherwise they will fear maths. Show to them that maths is interesting!

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