Motivating children: Problem finding and problem solving
To suggest that problem solving lies at the heart of mathematics is often to produce a deep sigh in many people. Adults’ memories of their schooling almost always include dealing with maths problems that might have been purely computational – rows of fractions, for example, just waiting to have the right answer attached, or written problems with a lot of text and the need to identify the correct strategy or algorithm, previously taught by the teacher. Boaler (2009: 38) challenges this approach to problem solving:
Children begin school as natural problem-solvers and many studies have shown that students are better at solving problems before they attend maths classes. They think and reason their way through problems, using methods in creative ways, but after a few hundred hours of passive maths learning students have their problem solving abilities knocked out of them.