Teaching Values Through a Problem-Solving Approach to Mathematics

By Margaret Taplin

Institute of Sathya Sai Education, Hong Kong

Some Questions For Discussion With Colleagues, or Action Research In Your Classroom

In this article, it has been shown how mathematical problem solving can contribute to the following values:

  • perseverance
  • thoughtfulness
  • self-reliance
  • resourcefulness
  • common sense
  • appreciation of social issues

Use a problem-solving approach to teach a standard mathematics topic, and observe the extent to which the students show signs of these values. Discuss your findings with your students.

Monitor the range of emotions which students experience during a problem-solving experience. How can these contribute to the development of the student’s character? Discuss this with your students.

Present a standard topic in a “real-life” context, as in the example above. Compare the level of the students’ interest and involvement, compared to when the same topic is presented in a more traditional way.

Over time (e.g. a whole school year), observe changes in the pupils’ ability to be able to transfer knowledge to unfamiliar situations.

“Real Problem Solving” enables pupils to practise their mathematics skills or learn new ones, by using mathematics as a tool to address a problem. Have your pupils identify and explore a solution to a problem. Identify the mathematical skills which are used, and the values which are encouraged. Discuss with your pupils how their project has been useful in helping others.

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