How to put your problems right

One of the many people I look forward to seeing at big MathsJam is @pozorvlak, Miles in real life, whose name means 'beware of the trams' in Czech. When he's not coding, pursuing the horrors of category theory, or juggling, he enjoys making his way up icy mountains.

That's not my cup of tea, but he recently tweeted this article, about a carabiner that unexpectedly broke.

Now, I use carabiners for keeping keyrings together, so I don't especially care about them breaking when someone does something as blithering as try to climb a rock face using them - but I was very interested in the format of the report.

  • It started by stating very clearly what had happened.
  • It followed that with an analysis of what had gone wrong.
  • It then asked how could similar things be prevented from happening in the future, and what could be learned.

I think that's an excellent approach to take any time you get a maths question wrong - explain what you did, figure out precisely what went wrong, and suggest how to avoid making the mistake in future.

Maybe there is something to be learnt from rock-climbing after all.


Colin is a Weymouth maths tutor, author of several Maths For Dummies books and A-level maths guides. He started Flying Colours Maths in 2008. He lives with an espresso pot and nothing to prove.


One comment on “How to put your problems right

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up for the Sum Comfort newsletter and get a free e-book of mathematical quotations.

No spam ever, obviously.

Where do you teach?

I teach in my home in Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth.

It's a 15-minute walk from Weymouth station, and it's on bus routes 3, 8 and X53. On-road parking is available nearby.

On twitter