For these reasons problem solving can be developed as a valuable skill in itself, a way of thinking (NCTM, 1989), rather than just as the means to an end of finding the correct answer.
Many writers have emphasised the importance of problem solving as a means of developing the logical thinking aspect of mathematics.
Problem solving is, however, more than a vehicle for teaching and reinforcing mathematical knowledge and helping to meet everyday challenges.
It is also a skill which can enhance logical reasoning.
According to Resnick (1987) a problem-solving approach contributes to the practical use of mathematics by helping people to develop the facility to be adaptable when, for instance, technology breaks down. (Eds.) Professional Development for Teachers of Mathematics , pp. An Agenda for Action: Recommendations for School Mathematics of the 1980s, Reston, Virginia: NCTM.
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It can thus also help people to transfer into new work environments at this time when most are likely to be faced with several career changes during a working lifetime (NCTM, 1989). National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (1989).
Through a problem-solving approach, this aspect of mathematics can be developed.
Presenting a problem and developing the skills needed to solve that problem is more motivational than teaching the skills without a context.
Let us consider how problem solving is a useful medium for each of these.
It has already been pointed out that mathematics is an essential discipline because of its practical role to the individual and society.