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Does Math Help Problem Solving?

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Many different types of math problems exist and are being taught, but one that would stand out is the real-world problem. Say Alex has 16 books and needs to give them away equally to 4 friends. This is a problem that mimics and represents a situation in the real world, with units and applications. Are they any better than the standard 3+2?

Critical thinking and problem-solving is the act of looking at a situation and finding a solution most logically. This can be seen in the original tale of Little Red Riding Hood, when 2 paths were leading to the grandmother’s house, one curved and one straight. Using logical thinking we can deduce that the straight path is the quickest option. How does this relate to math?

Like critical thinking, there are steps to math. Identifying the unknown solution and finding a way to get to it. Practicing math and real-world problems helps train that idea of thinking in a way to actively approach the solution through the information we are given. Not only this, but many other strategies help.

When drawing graphs and models, we practice visualization skills and the idea of taking information and transforming it into a new visual. Guessing and checking train the idea of identifying the problem, the solution, and practicing finding a way to connect them. Often we are given the information we do not need, which also makes us think about what is really important.

Math prepares us for the real world, around 86% of jobs require at least a basic understanding of math. Our brains mainly work off of logic, a way of thought to the most efficient solution. Math is the test sheet for our brains, making sure we understand every step in theory, before moving onto practice.


Devlin, Keith. “Do Math and Chess Make You a Better Problem Solver? Teaching Math for Life in a Wicked World.” Mathematical Association of America, MATH VALUES, 9 Apr. 2020,

“10 Reasons Why Math Is Important In Life [Guide + Examples].” Pi Day, 7 Jan. 2021,

Tammy. “Teaching Problem-Solving in Math.” The Owl Teacher, 15 July 2020,

Ghose, Tia. “Which Jobs Actually Use Math?” LiveScience, Purch, 24 Apr. 2013,

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