How do you solve 18 x 5? Apply the approach to your life and win

Amazon analytics recommended to me a book titled “Mathematical mindsets. Unleashing the students’ potential through creative math”, based on my interest in the subject

Amazon analytics recommended to me a book titled “Mathematical mindsets. Unleashing the students’ potential through creative math”, based on my interest in the subject according to my purchase history. This book is a gem. I recommend you find a copy and read. You get insights to be open-minded.

There are several methods to solve a math problem if you are open to learning.

And no wonder math underpins all creative minds as it powers one’s brains with logic. We are taught that to solve the problem, first know the principle. That way, you can find so many more ways of solving it. For example, to find an area of a rectangle, you must know the formulae or logic – length x-height. If you don’t know the formulae, you cannot solve the simple equation. And you may be unable to explore alternative ways to solve the challenge. I found one of the insights in the book interesting.

Here is an extract of solutions to 18 x 5 math problem:

Figure 1: Different ways to solve 18×5, extract from math mindsets book.

There is no one correct method in math problems. All you need is understanding the rule or formulae or principle. That is why I learned early that math teachers must be brilliant and versatile. Brilliant not to stick to the marking scheme method guide. Versatile to adjust to marking usually brighter students.

There is a lot of creativity in the solutions above. The mere process of allowing the mind to wander, draw diagrams in the head as it gets to the right solution is the best thing. Though we studied in village schools, we were trained to think aloud. No spoon-feeding. You had to do the hard part – study and then answer. Many of the teachers never knew the answers after all.

There are many takeaways from the above example – there are six or more ways of solving a simple math calculation as 18 x 5 or 17 x 4. Or any number. All you have to do is ask different people the method they use and why.

Equally, there are several ways of solving any challenge you might be experiencing in your life. All you have to do is to ask the right question to the right people.


Get two pieces of paper.

On one paper, write all your skills, qualifications, experience, talents, friends, and family networks and all your tangible and intangible opportunities.

On the second paper, one side, write all existing or potential opportunities you could tap into. And on the other side of the paper, write all the challenges affecting you from attaining or tapping into the opportunities.

Take time to summarize your strategic challenges into one statement with a cause and effect. Then ask several people how you could solve the challenge.

Once you get ideas from different people, summarize them into two or three key options. Take time to evaluate each option based on your resources as detailed on the first piece of your working paper. To do it better, make hypotheses to prove each option.

For example, to succeed through pursuing my art passion, it would have to be true that my art is contemporary, in high demand and many people can afford to buy my art to enable me to raise at least Ugx. 10m monthly net revenue.

Remember, there are many ways of solving a math problem. All you have to do is an open mind.

Copyright Mustapha Bernabas Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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