what good mathematicians do: a guide to problem solving

The following is a poster in my daughter’s math classroom.   Are these not solutions for everyday life? If you have a problem to solve in any aspect of your life, try what good mathematicians do:

image via flickr

1.  they look for patterns
If your kid is exhibiting less than attractive behavior, look for patterns.  Is it from lack of sleep? Are they hungry?  Too much sugar? In the middle of the night, do they open a window, lasso a tree and swing like Tarzan and yell “Get your damn dirty apes off me?” That might be it.

image via flickr

2.  they seek new ways to find solutions

Rather than tell your child they can’t bake a cake because they constantly ask for help while you’re trying to work and they never clean up after themselves, let them try it.  I let my girls bake a cake the other night.  After the fire department calmly explained to me that you turn on the oven, not the stove for baking, everything turned out A-OK.

image via flickr

3.  they create pictures, diagrams, and charts
What a great idea! Especially when you have to explain to your daughter’s teacher that she doesn’t really dream of killing zombies with poison plants and machetes although that’s all she draws in school.

image via flickr

4.  they estimate
Estimating is a good thing.  Like when you turn down buying coffee at Wal-Mart because it’s too expensive though you spend over 3 bucks a day at Starbucks every day.  Comparing the cost might come in handy.

image via flickr

5.  they ask questions
Such as, “Does Santa still have me on his good list?” after your kid’s last melt-down.  You think you sit on a gold mine at Christmas, letting the think they’re on the bad list if they dare talk back. But then you say stuff like, “Get me the TV remote or else Santa won’t visit you on Christmas Eve!” Santa will kick the crap out of me for that one.

image via flickr

6.  they create a plan to solve a problem
Especially when that plan involves chores for the kids to solve the boredom problem.  When your child says, “I want to do something fun. I’m bored. I have no friends to play with,” say, “The laundry’s lonely. Maybe you and the laundry have a slumber party with movies and popcorn. At midnight go wild and crazy and play Spin The Folded Towels. Whoever wins goes to the closet and sorts the linens.

image via flickr

7.  they explain their work
Very important when using their vocabulary words in sentences. They write, “My lip is sanguinary.”
You say “Shouldn’t you expand it a little, like WHY your lip is sanguinary?”
And they say, “It’s a sentence, C’MON!”

image via flickr

8.  they take time to do a good job
Of course! That is why kids take 3 hours to empty dishwashers. They simply take time to do a good job.

image via flickr

9.  they check their work
Listen up anyone who tweets. How do you know who’s talking to who with all those RTs and hashtags? #checkyourworkwhiletweetingdangit

image via flickr

10.  they use math to solve everyday problems
Math is wonderful especially for Californians. Like when most of your income goes to mortgage and property taxes.  When Jerry Brown takes over, he’ll take out more taxes.   But don’t worry because as Brown admitted, he has no plan for California.
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One comment

  1. Lynne Bolinger · December 6, 2010

    Genius!

    Like

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