Friday, February 13, 2009

The Missing Link

Try this task. You need to arrange four different Vietnamese dolls in a row. Find the number of different ways of doing this. Two ways are shown in the photos . . . Finding one arrangement is not problem solving. Finding a couple of ways is also not problem solving. What is problem solving? Finding all the possible ways, knowing that one has not found all the ways, or knowing that one has, is problem solving. Polya described problem solving as comprising four stages (1) understand (2) plan (3) do and (4) look back. Perhaps students who consistently not able to handle problem solving may have been doing only three of the four stages. Often, they have limited opportunities to do the look back phase. In other words, they have not been doing problem solving, in the true sense of the word, all this while. They have only been engaged in parts of the problem-solving process - that perhaps explain why they have not develop expertise in problm solving. One cannot be good at something unless one has gone through, and has practise, the entire thing.

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