The Old Woman

Off task at Aldi again

It is so easy to become distracted from the task at hand (food shopping) when Aldi has books on special. I couldn’t resist this one. As I flicked through the pages I created at least a dozen problematized situations. So, of course, I had to buy it.

The Dutch have a word, realiseren, which means realism. Realism in problem solving actually refers to being able to project oneself into a problem. The problem does not have to be real world, but it does have to relate to and engage student’s curiosity and imagination. A few years ago now a teacher had been using the Gingerbread Man as a stimulus for her class. The students were going to make and decorate gingerbread men. One student asked why all the gingerbread men that they had seen only had one row of buttons not two. Well this set off a string of questions about how many buttons could be on a gingerbread man, and how many M&Ms might be needed to decorate 5 gingerbread bread men. Apparently, the questions continued for several days and the problem solving was amazing. Seeing There was an old woman who lived in a shoe actually triggered this memory and foregrounded my ideas for problem solving based on it.

As the book unfolds there are events such as doing the laundry, polishing, taking pets to the vets that trigger problems. It looks as though the old woman has quadruplets, put that with the washing machine and …

“Suppose she does 6 nappy changes a day, how many nappies will be on the kite washing line?”

Yes, that’s right the children are flying a kite with washing pegged on it.

The queue at the Vet also triggered a problem.

“There are 7 children each with a pet at the Vet. If there are 7 heads and 26 feet what pets might be at the Vet.”

Hint: a fish does not have any legs.

That’s enough, I don’t want to spoil your fun. If you are interested in realizeren or creating problems, take a look at our online course Problematized Situations.