The Best Way to Solve a Math Problem

Photo: moritzaust

Photo: moritzaust

I’ve never been good at math. I was always the type of student that as I passed from grade to grade, the previous year’s math lessons didn’t make sense until the following year.

When I was in my senior year of high school I had a math teacher, Mr. Finkbeiner, who said something I wish I had been told a decade earlier. On the first day he asked the class, “What is the best way to solve a math problem?” We all looked at each other puzzled and then looked to him for the answer. One person in the class reluctantly chimed in with, “The way you tell us?” It got a nervous chuckle from the class. But what Mr. Finkbeiner said next completely blew my mind: “The best way to solve a math problem is the way that works best for you.”

There’s no one way to do something. There’s no one right answer. What works for me, may not work for you. If you find a way that is easier and more efficient, as long as it gets you to the correct solution, how you get there is up to you. Find what works best for you and do that.

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