As was pointed out earlier, standard mathematics, with the emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge, does not necessarily cater for these needs.
Resnick (1987) described the discrepancies which exist between the algorithmic approaches taught in schools and the 'invented' strategies which most people use in the workforce in order to solve practical problems which do not always fit neatly into a taught algorithm.
In the past decade it has been suggested that problem-solving techniques can be made available most effectively through making problem solving the focus of the mathematics curriculum.
Although mathematical problems have traditionally been a part of the mathematics curriculum, it has been only comparatively recently that problem solving has come to be regarded as an important medium for teaching and learning mathematics (Stanic and Kilpatrick, 1989).
More recently the Council endorsed this recommendation (NCTM, 1989) with the statement that problem solving should underly all aspects of mathematics teaching in order to give students experience of the power of mathematics in the world around them.
They see problem solving as a vehicle for students to construct, evaluate and refine their own theories about mathematics and the theories of others. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (1980). Such motivation gives problem solving special value as a vehicle for learning new concepts and skills or the reinforcement of skills already acquired (Stanic and Kilpatrick, 1989, NCTM, 1989). Approaching mathematics through problem solving can create a context which simulates real life and therefore justifies the mathematics rather than treating it as an end in itself. Schoenfeld also suggested that a good problem should be one which can be extended to lead to mathematical explorations and generalisations. He described three characteristics of mathematical thinking: Problem solving is an important component of mathematics education because it is the single vehicle which seems to be able to achieve at school level all three of the values of mathematics listed at the outset of this article: functional, logical and aesthetic. Mathematicians who successfully solve problems say that the experience of having done so contributes to an appreciation for the 'power and beauty of mathematics' (NCTM, 1989, p.77), the "joy of banging your head against a mathematical wall, and then discovering that there might be ways of either going around or over that wall" (Olkin and Schoenfeld, 1994, p.43). 'Constructing meaningful understanding of mathematics content', in Aichele, D. (Eds.) Professional Development for Teachers of Mathematics , pp. They also speak of the willingness or even desire to engage with a task for a length of time which causes the task to cease being a 'puzzle' and allows it to become a problem. As the emphasis has shifted from teaching problem solving to teaching via problem solving (Lester, Masingila, Mau, Lambdin, dos Santon and Raymond, 1994), many writers have attempted to clarify what is meant by a problem-solving approach to teaching mathematics. The focus is on teaching mathematical topics through problem-solving contexts and enquiry-oriented environments which are characterised by the teacher 'helping students construct a deep understanding of mathematical ideas and processes by engaging them in doing mathematics: creating, conjecturing, exploring, testing, and verifying' (Lester et al., 1994, p.154). Specific characteristics of a problem-solving approach include: My early problem-solving courses focused on problems amenable to solutions by Polya-type heuristics: draw a diagram, examine special cases or analogies, specialize, generalize, and so on. Over the years the courses evolved to the point where they focused less on heuristics per se and more on introducing students to fundamental ideas: the importance of mathematical reasoning and proof..., for example, and of sustained mathematical investigations (where my problems served as starting points for serious explorations, rather than tasks to be completed).