Written by mathematical educator Paul Swan. So often the mathematics we present to students has been sanitised to the point where all they need to do is follow a few remembered procedures in order to answer straightforward questions. Unfortunately, most questions we face in life are never straightforward and we need to apply our problem-solving skills in order to arrive at an answer – or one of a number of possible answers.
Seldom do the problems we encounter contain all the information we require and so we need to seek out further information. At other times we are faced with problems that contain too much information and we must determine what information is relevant and what is not.