The Problem with Problems

 

Problems have a bad rap. Facing a sudden problem disturbs our life routine, takes time and effort from things we like or have to do every day, and forces us to focus on the unpleasantness of solving something difficult in order to remove it and move on.

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The Virtues of Down-Time

 

There is a noticeable trend among today's parents to keep their children of all ages busy with structured activities at all times. Sports, crafts, clubs, after-school classes, tutors...all of these follow each other in an endless hamster wheel of activity. Then, hours of school homework leave neither place nor time for leisure, genuine curiosity, or...boredom. 

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Learned Helplessness

Every teacher knows that one girl or boy in her classroom who just won't do "it," whatever "it" is: a math problem, essay writing, or jumping rope. A teacher's gentle encouragement of these students tends to fall on deaf ears because they have an unfortunate condition I like to call "learned helplessness."

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Math Anxiety, Math Fatigue, Math...What Else?!

There is a prevailing public sentiment that math is something to be feared. Many adults readily admit their aversion to the subject, proclaiming a proclivity for literature or the arts instead. This math anxiety begins in childhood, as early as first grade and is compounded through a child's personal history of math fatigue and negative experience in math classes. No adult in their sane mind...

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To math, or not to math?

 

For about 40 years now, the prevailing approach for teaching mathematics has been to break math rules, methods, techniques, and procedures into smaller and smaller pieces, digestible for students within a class period. The assumption is that these spoon-fed pieces will eventually magically connect and unite into a solid and holistic ability to solve complex mathematical problems. The advent...

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