The Art of Problem Solving

Five students of class 12 attended a workshop, sponsored by Ashoka University, on ‘The Art of Problem Solving’ at the University of Chicago Centre, Connaught Place, New Delhi. The resource person Prof. Santosh S. Venkatesh, from the University of Pennsylvania, advocated a mathematical approach to problem solving, on the lines of Dr. George. Polya , a renowned Hungarian mathematician.

He discussed a five pronged strategy, which included understanding the problem, reducing it to the simplest version, devising and implementing a plan of attack, looking back at the solution and finally looking ahead and taking action.

Through the course of the workshop, the students were given different critical thinking problems, which they discussed in groups. The aim of this exercise was the make students approach the problem from different perspectives, and discussing about them as a team. The students came up with a number of creative solutions, and were enthusiastic about sharing their points of view with the others.

Prof. Venkatesh talked about math as a tool for solving problems, and applying those principles for solving other problems as well. The workshop was a wonderful learning experience for all the students, who came back with a whole new way of looking at problems, solutions and math!