“Productive Failure” and Math Learning

Image-1This article from Quartz.com, describes a method of math learning from Singapore that encourages “productive failure.”  Children are presented with problems and are then asked to try to solve them without direct instruction or the help of their teachers.  As they fail, they learn from their mistakes and try again.

Although the article focuses on older children’s math learning, it is important to note that through play and trial and error, young children also learn from productive failure.  As children attempt to problem solve, they try and fail and then try again.  The eventual feelings of accomplishment and success once they have discovered the answer is a powerful learning strategy.

“Every time you give a child the answer, you rob him of the opportunity to learn it himself.” (Jean Piaget)

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