According to Wikipedia.org, the method or methods used in any particular context are largely determined by the objectives that the relevant educational system is trying to achieve. Methods of teaching mathematics include the following:
- Conventional approach - the gradual and systematic guiding through the hierarchy of mathematical notions, ideas and techniques. Starts with arithmetic and is followed by Euclidean geometry and elementary algebra taught concurrently. Requires the instructor to be well informed about elementary mathematics , since didactic and curriculum decisions are often dictated by the logic of the subject rather than pedagogical considerations. Other methods emerge by emphasizing some aspects of this approach.
- Classical education - the teaching of mathematics within the quadrivium , part of the classical education curriculum of the Middle Ages , which was typically based on Euclid's Elements taught as a paradigm of deductive reasoning .
- Rote learning - the teaching of mathematical results, definitions and concepts by repetition and memorisation typically without meaning or supported by mathematical reasoning. A derisory term is drill and kill . In traditional education , rote learning is used to teach multiplication tables , definitions, formulas, and other aspects of mathematics.
- Exercises - the reinforcement of mathematical skills by completing large numbers of exercises of a similar type, such as adding vulgar fractions or solving quadratic equations .
- Problem solving - the cultivation of mathematical ingenuity, creativity and heuristic thinking by setting students open-ended, unusual, and sometimes unsolved problems. The problems can range from simple word problems to problems from international mathematics competitions such as the International Mathematical Olympiad . Problem solving is used as a means to build new mathematical knowledge, typically by building on students' prior understandings.
- New Math - a method of teaching mathematics which focuses on abstract concepts such as set theory , functions and bases other than ten. Adopted in the US as a response to the challenge of early Soviet technical superiority in space, it began to be challenged in the late 1960s. One of the most influential critiques of the New Math was Morris Kline's 1973 book Why Johnny Can't Add . The New Math method was the topic of one of Tom Lehrer 's most popular parody songs, with his introductory remarks to the song: "...in the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you're doing, rather than to get the right answer."
- Historical method - teaching the development of mathematics within an historical, social and cultural context. Provides more human interest than the conventional approach.
- Standards-based mathematics - a vision for pre-college mathematics education in the US and Canada , focused on deepening student understanding of mathematical ideas and procedures, and formalized by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics which created the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics .