>> Ten Commandments Teaching George Polya

By: Asep Sapa’at, S. Pd.

Remember the name George Polya, Hungarian mathematician (1887 – 1985), father of “problem solving”? Ph. D. of the University of Budapest, this is phenomenal: writing 250 papers and 3 books, generally about ‘problem solving’. His book “How to Solve It” was a sweet bestseller, dubbed the 15th language. Interestingly here, Polya bequeathed the “Ten Commandments for Teachers.” I want to reflect on the ten principles of Polya, especially towards what I feel as a math teacher in Bandung.

Be Interested in your Subject. At the beginning of the meeting, I tried to build positive communication with the protégé. Share life experiences, and profiles of successful people (from reference). I deliberately removed psychological barriers, did not want to be considered the most knowing, considered my “caste” higher.

Success builds that positive relationship, opening up opportunities to recognize their individuality. This is what George Polya meant by his second command: Know your Subject.

Try to read the face of your students, try to see their expectations and difficulties, put your self in their place. (Try to read your students’ faces, try to see their hopes and difficulties, place yourself in their position.) This third teaching order reminds me of a special moment when facing two students whose learning abilities are quite low, while teaching at a favorite school in Bandung. It seemed the two were helpless to take lessons. After empathy, they tell stories, and I understand both have the same problem, which is the level of learning readiness and parental attention. I guided them to study outside lesson hours. The three of us studied together, sharing stories and snacks, ‘real friends’ at a break in the corner.

The method of discussion learning I always present. Learn to socialize, form productive learning communities, and learn experiences together to develop knowledge. These three things can be achieved simultaneously through discussion. This is according to Polya’s fourth commandment: Realize that the best way to learn anything is to discover it by yourself. The best way to learn something is to find it yourself.

Polya’s next command: Give your students not only information, but also ‘know-how’, ‘mental attitude’, ‘the habit methodical work’. Give your students not only information, but also ‘how to know’, ‘mental attitudes’, and ‘methodical work habits’. I am principled, students are subjects of learning, whereas I am a motivator, facilitator, and director of learning. My main task is to form a self-taught character. Consequently, it not only “feeds” students with a variety of information, but directs them to become reliable thinkers and problem solvers. They are given a wide opportunity to ask questions, demonstrate their best abilities, and objectively assess themselves to build self-concepts.

Let them learn guessing. Let them learn to think. Let them learn proving. And let them learn to prove it. I use quizzes, simulations, and puzzles to test their thinking skills, to get used to real-life challenges. Hopefully, they are able to become problem solvers as a result of learning.

Look out for such features of the problem at hand as may be useful in solving the problem to come. Try to disclose the general pattern that lies behind the present concrete situation. Be careful of the characteristics of the problem at hand so that it can be caved in to solve the problems that come. Try to show the general pattern that lies behind the given concrete situation. This situation I experienced when I was the subject of learning in going through the process of becoming a productive thinker in producing scientific work. The thesis guidance process was so meaningful, it encouraged my scientific sensitivity optimally.

In that process, I found many things: methodological ability to think, creativity in scientific work, and self-development in the writing world. (>>Thanks for Mr. Jacob, my mentor, a figure who is able to carry out ‘teaching orders’ with a high level of teaching effectiveness).

Do not give your whole secret at once let the students guess before you tell it let them find out by themselves as much as it feasible. Do not give away all your secrets, simultaneously let students think before you teach them. Leave them alone, which can be done easily. I still don’t think that there’s a teacher who gives shiva a task and then he himself finishes it. Ludicrous, and unfortunate. That is, we are not really making students a good problem solver. In fact, it’s a superior personal substance. By giving students the opportunity to solve problems to the limit of their best abilities, a whole new creative idea is emerging. We as teachers are becoming richer with alternative solutions offered by students. Unwittingly, we become learners.

Suggest it, do not force it down their throats. Push them, don’t scold them. I remember the message of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, narrated by Abu Hurairah. He said, ‘don’t be angry’. He repeated it several times, saying, ‘Do not be angry’ (HR). Bukhari). Then Abu Dzar al-Ghifari said, “If one of you is angry while standing, let him sit down until his anger is gone. If it does not disappear, let it lie down.” There are four reasons why we don’t have to be angry. First, anger blinds the view—can’t think clearly. Second, anger invites the enemy. Cooperation is built on a spirit of help- help, not coercion let alone anger. Third, anger means weakness. We lose when we get angry. The one who makes us angry, beats us. Fourth, anger wastes energy.