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So interest in solving problems has risen dramatically

So interest in solving problems has risen dramatically

Annette de Roon is a researcher and teacher at Stockholm University. In her thesis, she, among other things, investigated how the Sputnik effect gave rise to the phenomenon of problem solving in mathematics education.


The Sputnik effect gave impetus to the phenomenon of problem solving in mathematics education.
In order not to lag behind the Soviet Union, the United States and other countries invested in increasing students' knowledge of mathematics and science, says researcher and teacher Annette de Roon.

It is not possible to reach a clear definition of the phenomenon of problem solving in mathematics teaching and teacher education. This is one of the conclusions that Annette de Roon came to after completing her thesis.

– Problem solving is about learning Themselves mathematicians solve problems purely mathematically, at work and in life in general. But it is also a way of teaching and It says communication problem solved“Thinking and collaborating,” she says.

Annette de Roon has a background as a primary and secondary school mathematics teacher. For several years, she also taught on a teacher training course at Stockholm University. Her thesis investigates the phenomenon of problem solving in mathematics.

Vomiting effect

As part of her work, Annette de Roon has studied problem-solving texts dating back to the 1840s. The authors are in the introduction All professional teachers, usuallyTowards lecturers in mathematics, the texts were published in teachers' magazines, books and educational programmes.

– During the 1840s, there was a lot of talk about problem solving as a value in itself, but this was not the case in the early twentieth century. Then it returned at the end of the twentieth century. This means that I recognized myself more in texts from the 1840s than in those from the beginning of the 20th century where routine, rules and procedures were the important thing, says Annette de Roon.

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Clear transformation The so-called Sputnik effect came about in the late 1950s, when the Soviet Union He started sending satellites into spacethe. Governments in the United States and Western Europe responded by changing education policy to create more competitive education. Mathematics and science gained a more prominent role.

-This led to significant investments in research and in the following decades teaching was strongly problem-oriented.

What does school look like today?

We are still in a period in which we see that problem solving is the most important content of mathematics teaching. But I think at the same time there may be a shift in focus More facts than I did for 10-20 year since. This means stronger betsLearn about arithmetic operations and learn rules and procedures, such as the multiplication table.

It can arouse emotions

In her thesis, Annette de Roon identified several new ways of understanding problem solving, where, among other things, Feelings are important to how a teacher education program is managedThe third addresses this issue.

-There is a lot written about emotions and mathematics. It's often about feelings that need to be overcome, such as math anxiety. But I mean, mathematics and problem solving can evoke many different kinds of emotions, and everything can be observed and sorted out, especially for student teachers who will encounter this among their students. For example, one can feel curious and surprised at the same time as feeling frustrated or resigned.

Problem solving can also be linked to different social issues, for example climate change and inequality.

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– If we choose tasks that have many different solutions, the solution to the problem can also have a political or moral dimension, says Annette de Roon..

So the view of mathematics changed

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