So often I come across children who have been taught there is 'only one way' to solve a mathematical problem and are penalised if they go about solving it in a different way.
Does this not remove the element of innovation that is so important for building future mathematicians?
I believe it is vital that children are taught numerous ways of solving problems so they grow up to become creative thinkers. If a child is never allowed to explore alternatives, how will they ever learn to think imaginatively?
People may ask: what happens if they get confused?
Children are, as I have discovered, adept at using many different methods and enjoy the challenges accompanied with problem solving. If taught in a creative way, most children thrive on using their own ideas and boredom is almost always avoided if children are allowed to take a lead.
Maths is a logical subject and most children are logical thinkers. The links between numbers need to be explored from an early age and failure to make links can lead to problems further down the line. Teaching different methods shows children that there isn't a single way of solving a problem - imagine if all our great innovators had only used one method?
We need to equip our children for a life outside of the classroom; it is important that we start by showing them the beauty of discovering mathematical patterns and avoid prescribing a 'one-size-fits-all' method of problem solving.