Teaching Problems In Mathematics

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I believe that the challenge of sustaining and developing intrinsic motivation for Mathematics in students is a key issue in the teaching and learning of problem solving at the primary / secondary level.
According to India’s National Curriculum Framework -NCF,(2005), ‘the primary goal of
Mathematics education is mathematisation of the child’s thought processes. The NCF mentions that mathematics takes place in a situation where students pose and solve meaningful problems. Ironically, the document goes on to state that the problems of Mathematics teaching and learning, in India are –
• Sense of fear and failure amongst majority of children
• Curriculum that disappoints both talented minority and non-participating majority
• Crude methods of
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The current teaching in Indian classrooms is reflective of the traditional drill-and-practice method, offering limited exposure to actual the problem solving.
Schroeder and Lester (1989) identified three different types of approaches to problem solving:
1. Teaching for problem solving: focuses on teaching skills so that students can later solve problems.
2. Teaching about problem solving: focuses on strategies of how to solve a problem.
3. Teaching through problem solving: Focuses on viewing problem solving not only as a content area but a pedagogical approach.

The drill-and-practice approach corresponds to the ‘teaching for problem solving’ approach in the framework given by Schroeder and Lester.
The low intrinsic motivation issue is a direct outcome of the limited interpretation and consequent practice of problem solving through the myopic lens of ‘teaching for problem solving’ rather than the much warranted ‘teaching through problem solving’
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While this traditional model might be helpful for remembering facts and procedures, it certainly does not cater to the high cognitive demand expected from frameworks like integrated strands for mathematical proficiency or common core practice standards. While students may develop procedural fluency, they would often lack the deep conceptual understanding essential to solve new problems or make connections between different mathematical ideas. Researchers suggest that the problem lies with students’ classroom experiences wherein students find little scope or motivation to engage meaningfully with Mathematical ideas and appreciate its true nature and this eventually leads to their disengagement with the

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