"Creative thinking starts with small steps, some structure and method until we are able to make a leap and make reasoning, problem-solving, and creativity a part of our lives and personality.”
I started teaching mathematics and reasoning to children only after I retired from lecturing at the University of Oxford, England. However, as a father of two adult children and two young kids I already had quite a bit of experience trying to coax young minds in mathematical reasoning.
My journey from a child that loved math in then-Soviet Latvia to lecturing at University of Oxford was a long one. I completed my initial degrees in theoretical and mathematical physics and later completed my PhD in biophysics in Russia and in Sweden. Subsequently I spent several decades at the University of Oxford researching, lecturing, and working on mathematical modeling of biological processes. Today I am inspired to share what I have learned during my journey with young students.
I have always thought that teaching maths and sciences to young children was incredibly important. Nowadays, I believe that teaching children how to think and how to reason can be more important than the specific subjects or curriculum that they are taught.
I believe that teaching children how to think and how to reason can be more important than the specific subjects or curriculum that they are taught.”
Becoming a Creative Thinker
What any intelligent person really wants is to become a true creative thinker who is ready to come up with ideas big and small in response to situations which never stop to show up at our doorstep.
If we want to be creative in our thinking, we need to practice our brain cells. It is better to start this work at an early age when our neural pathways are forming and are easy to change.
The more clearly, effectively and coherently we think, the better we are able to face the challenges of our everyday lives.
The aim of this mathematical reasoning course is to help young children to obtain skills and qualities that are necessary in logical thinking. Through engaging and entertaining exercises, children can discover and unlock the process of thinking and how to make it a permanent part of their personality.
The type of problems we solve in Mathematical Reasoning
In Monster Education’s Mathematical Reasoning course, we solve a wide range of verbal and non-verbal reasoning problems. These types of problems are encountered in real-life situations, various exams for private schools, entrance tests into British Independent Schools, IQ tests, and even in job interviews for companies such as Google.
Practically, the same type of problems are discussed with children of younger (6 - 8 years) and older (9 – 12 years) groups. The only difference is that the level of difficulty and the required mastery of arithmetics is lower for children in the younger group. The younger students also receive more expanded explanations.
Verbal reasoning problems involve thinking about text, solving word problems, following written instructions to come up with a solution and cracking letter- and number-based codes.
Non-verbal reasoning develops the ability to understand and analyse visual information and solve problems using visual reasoning. For example: children are asked to identify relationships, similarities and differences between shapes and patterns, as well as numbers, and cognize visual sequences and relationships between objects.
To keep children’s interest in dealing with these tasks alive and have their concentration focused, the formal reasoning problems are always mixed with entertaining and fun challenges like matchstick problems, fun puzzles, etc.
The common feature of almost all problems included in the Mathematical Reasoning course is that, in order to find a solution, one has to make a creative effort though, at an early stage, it might be a small one.
Aiming to become a creative thinker may sound like a daunting task for any student, adult, or child. Creative thinking starts with small steps, some structure and method, until we are able to make a leap and make reasoning, problem-solving, and creativity a part of our lives and personality.
Professor Juris teaches Mathematical Reasoning courses for Monster Education. After retiring from research, lecturing, and mathematical modeling of biological processes at the University of Oxford, England Prof. Juris embarked on children’s education in mathematics preparing them for leading British boarding schools. He completed his PhD in biophysics at the Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia and the Gothenburg University in Sweden; his BA and MA in theoretical and mathematical physics at the University of Latvia.