Episode 9: We Like Problems, Yes We Do

Wes Carroll- MIT grad, podcast host, math tutor, educational coach/consultant, and Ted-proclaimed “Master Problem Solver”- joins the show for Episode  9. Wes explains how learning to problem solve is more than simply learning how to answer test questions correctly; in fact, this type of thinking is a skill that will serve students through college and beyond. Ted and Wes discuss the difference between classroom exercises and true problem solving and weigh in on which is more important to a student’s success. (0:50)

Check out Wes’ website to learn more about his tutoring and how he can help high school students become better thinkers. Also, take a listen to his podcast for more fun problem solving practice!

Ted and Wes chat about mathematician George Polya’s 1947 book How To Solve It, a guide to the principles of problem solving. Both are big fans of Polya’s strategy of making a plan and breaking a challenging problem into parts to find the answer. (9:00)

Ted asks Wes  if good thinking and problem solving are things a tutor can teach and a student can develop. They discuss the self-evaluative process of a successful problem solver. Ted humbly admits he has a tendency to always immediately pick the best method to solve a problem but Wes believes there’s more to it than chance. (17:00)

After discussing the theories, quandaries, and philosophies of problem solving, Ted and Wes finally get to solving some problems! Wes has brought some interesting examples from his puzzler podcast so he and Ted work on a few to close out the show. (33:06)

Have a question or comment for Ted and the show? Email and check out his website!

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