The state of math education
In almost every corner of the world, math is known for being both challenging and rewarding. Nearly everyone has struggled with math at some point. What has becoming startlingly clear, however, is that more and more students are finding these challenges too great to overcome. The middle-school years are often hardest, and once they being to struggle, many students never regain their confidence.
The consistent principles of math should be a point of stability; instead, students are struggling to integrate the new knowledge with the old; oftentimes, they can’t even see the benefit. Frustrated, confused, and doubting their own abilities, these students turn away from math studies. The sad truth is that, for many, math has become a challenge without a reward.
What is being done?
Historically, math instruction has been based around strategic teaching through tested methods. This approach is problematic because of the broad array of different methods that can be used. With so many learning strategies competing for precedence, it is not surprising that teachers and administrators can be just as overwhelmed by the possibilities as the students they are trying to help. In addition to being complex and variable, the traditional methods of math education often fail to build on previous knowledge. This means that a vital part of the learning process is neglected, compounding students’ struggles with learning. Teachers and students need a new approach to math education.
The Problem Solving Maps approach
This new approach is Problem Solving Maps (PSM). These maps build on three major skill concepts: inductive thinking, deductive thinking, and analysis. The Problem Solving Maps are designed to be applicable across multiple math topics and grade levels, allowing students to participate in a streamlined learning process that grows with them, from elementary school to post-secondary education. When students use Problem Solving Maps, they learn both product and process. The maps also provide a common language for students to connect new concepts with previous knowledge.