The traditional mathematics professor of the popular legend is absentminded.
He usually appears in public with a lost umbrella in each hand.
He prefers to face the blackboard and to turn his back to the class.
He writes a, he says b, he means c; but it should be d.
Some of his sayings are handed down from generation to generation.
- “In order to solve this differential equation you look at it till a solution occurs to you.”
- “This principle is so perfectly general that no particular application of it is possible.”
- “Geometry is the science of correct reasoning on incorrect figures.”
- “My method to overcome a difficulty is to go round it.”
- “What is the difference between method and device? A method is a device which you used twice.”
If you’re not familiar with Polya’s work, here’s a 4-page summary of his problem-solving method.
Or check out David Butler’s wonderful Solving Problems Poster, which encapsulates Pólya’s system in a visual, easy-to-follow way that works with younger students, too.
CREDITS: “Professor” cartoon (top) by André Santana via Pixabay.
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