For many reasons, the state of society has reached a stage where it is more critical than ever to educate people in the traditional values of their culture. In recent years there has been considerable discussion about whether it is the responsibility of schools to impart values education. There is growing pressure for all teachers to become teachers of values, through modelling, discussing and critiquing values-related issues.

Increasing numbers of individuals need to be able to * think for themselves* in a constantly changing environment, particularly as technology is making larger quantities of information easier to access and to manipulate. They also need to be able to * adapt to unfamiliar or unpredictable situations* more easily than people needed to in the past. Teaching mathematics encompasses skills and functions which are a part of everyday life.

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Problem-solving is a process—an ongoing activity in which we take what we know to discover what we don''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''t know. It involves overcoming obstacles by generating hypo-theses, testing those predictions, and arriving at satisfactory solutions.

Many math students in the U.S. are scared, if not horrified, of math word problems. In general, they are thought of as difficult.

Why would that be? It doesn''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''t totally make sense. I can''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''t imagine children not liking word problems just because they need find an answer to something (a problem), or because the problem is explained in words. Even most of us adults are fascinated by puzzles, for example.

Whether we realize it or not we’ve become adept at working around these barriers using everyday problem solving skills.

When our kids were little, we paved the way for them to get what they needed. Even now they may not be aware of the obstacles we clear from their path.

I’ve got a thing for well-illustrated books that really capture the endearing quirkiness of kids. That’s the first thing that made me love Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy * by Jacky Davis and David Soman. But as I read it to my 4-year-old again tonight, I realized what a perfect book it is to illustrate the social problem-solving kids need to do almost every day. Something he had done today, in fact.

Just this afternoon, he and his brother were at odds about how to play together. As they got flustered and frustrated and began to grouch at each other, I stepped out to intervene. In a split second, I had to decide whether to intervene by settling it myself, or by taking the time to teach them to own their problems and problem solve together.

Schoenfeld (in Olkin and Schoenfeld, 1994, p.43) described the way in which the use of problem solving in his teaching has changed since the 1970s:

My early problem-solving courses focused on problems amenable to solutions by Polya-type heuristics: draw a diagram, examine special cases or analogies, specialize, generalize, and so on. Over the years the courses evolved to the point where they focused less on heuristics per se and more on introducing students to fundamental ideas: the importance of mathematical reasoning and proof., for example, and of sustained mathematical investigations (where my problems served as starting points for serious explorations, rather than tasks to be completed).

Problem solving consists of using generic or * ad hoc* methods, in an orderly manner, for finding solutions to problems. Some of the problem-solving techniques developed and used in artificial intelligence , computer science , engineering , mathematics , or medicine are related to mental problem-solving techniques studied in psychology.

In computer science and in the part of artificial intelligence that deals with algorithms ("algorithmics"), problem solving encompasses a number of techniques known as algorithms , heuristics , root cause analysis , etc. In these disciplines, problem solving is part of a larger process that encompasses problem determination, de-duplication , analysis, diagnosis, repair, etc.

Whether your child can t find his math homework or he s forgotten his lunch, good problem-solving skills are the key to helping him manage his life. You can begin teaching basic problem-solving skills during preschool and help your child sharpen his skills into high school and beyond.

Kids who lack problem-solving skills may avoid taking action when faced with a problem. Rather than put their energy into solving the problem, they may avoid addressing it. That s why many kids fall behind in school or struggle to maintain friendships.