Thinking outside the box


Tech Trek Log – 2010.06.10

Another day, another seminar session attended. This time, the local school had a presentation about the new Math curriculum already being taught for K1 – 7 kids. The key point in the event is the shift from traditional algorithm into the new method of teaching. I’ve created a modified version of these two methods to illustrate the top-down as compared to the bottom-up approach:

Math Instructional Methods

As an example, how do you get the sum of the equation below:

46 + 38 = _____

The traditional method is to line up both numbers, start from right to left, and apply any carry-over if the sum is more than 10. Quite easy right? Unfortunately, as the teacher mentioned this is where the problem lies – our brains are accustomed from left-to-right pattern and doing carry over results into confusion to most people.

As an alternative, one can solve the following equation using either one of the following methods:

Round down into nearest tens and add the ones:
40 + 30 = 70
6 + 8 = 14
Thus, 70 + 14 = 84

Or, subtract 2 to first number and add 2 to the second number results into:
44 + 40 = 84

How does this relate to a technical blog regarding programming or SharePoint. This got me into the thinking hat and came into the following conclusion:

As the speaker said, the main focus today is teacher-directed rather than spending more time in problem-solving. Thus, it becomes an optional component and only performed by the student upon completion of all the practice tests. What is wrong with that scenario? One of the critical skill nowadays in any industry is problem-solving and ability to “think outside the box.”

With the dawn of information age, the ability to formulate and find different solutions to a particular issue is very important, not just math equations per se. Thus, it makes sense to develop this skill at any age regardless whether it is organizing and classifying SharePoint portals, or presenting different programming solutions, etc. So, next time you see “some degree of creativity required” in a job description, now you know …


Dedicated to my kids and hoping that they’ll get to read and apply this as they grow up.

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