Solving a Math and Life Problem – A Self-taught Lesson

Three watermelons and two cantaloupes weigh 32 pounds. Four watermelons and three cantaloupes weigh 44 pounds. All watermelons weigh the same and all cantaloupes weigh the same. What is the weight of two watermelons and one cantaloupe?

A simple math problems looks like the same as this one (actually this is a real one). In real life, sitting in an examination hall, this three line long question turns really hard for a 10 year old Waqas.

This is what’s been happening with me when I was in my early 10s. ūüėČ But I sorted it out, thanks to ME, I learned how to solve them.

The same thing is happening with me when I am in my early 20s now. ūüėČ Life brings all kind of problems towards me and you, no matter if you like a subject or not, we encounter problems every single day. And some times they seems much bigger and complex to us, that it almost seems impossible to solve them.

But here is how I learned solving Math problems and now I and may be you can reLearn the same lesson to apply in real life.

Let me be that 5th grader again. (I hope it’ll not feel boring to you, even it does, solving is important)

OMG! This is such a long question, I forget what was mentioned in first three words, by the time I end reading this question. So here is, read it again. No sense at all. Let’s write the values on paper and may be things get better.

Watermelon = X, Cantaloupes = Y
3X + 2Y = 32lb  , 4X + 3Y = 44lb
Now multiply first equation with 3, and second with 2, and we get
9X + 6Y = 96,  8X + 6Y = 88

Now if we subtract second equation from 1st one, this is what we get.
X + 0Y = 8, in other words, X=8

Now put the X’s value in equation 1
24 + 2Y= 32  ->  2Y = 8  -> Y=4

We need to find weight of 2 watermelons (X) and 1 cantaloupe (Y)
Here it is

2X + 1Y = ?
16 + 4 = 20

It means weight of 2 watermelons and 1 cantaloupe is 20lb. Bingo!

Here are truths about problems in live.

  • The problems looks complex, and solutions seems difficult. (this is why they are problems)
  • When we read / review of a problem, we forget that we can use our background,¬†knowledge, resources and our many years experience.
  • We don’t specify how this problem can be resolved, and we start worrying.
  • We don’t get that, solutions can be divided into small steps, which are easy and more practical, rather looking into whole¬†sphere.
Final Thoughts:

It is clear to me now that, Worrying at First, was the first thing I used to do in my class when looking at math problems.

And it didn’t work for me.¬†So in life, Worrying at First, is not going to help me at all. Not to you as well.

Worrying at first is not my strategy now. It should never be.

PS. This post idea came two hours ago, when I suggested my mother, (who is teaching math to her 5 grade class), to develop the habit of Not Worrying at First in your students. If you really want to be best math teacher in your shool, and more importantly help your students change their lives.

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