What does it mean to be “creative” in math?

What makes math interesting anyway?

Questions I think we all need to dive into!

Many teachers are comfortable allowing their students to read for pleasure at school and encourage reading at home for pleasure too. Writing is often seen as a creative activity. Our society appreciates Literacy as having both creative and purposeful aspects. Yet mathematics as a source of enjoyment or creativity is often not considered by many.

I want you to reflect on your own thinking here. How important do you see creativity in mathematics? What does creativity in mathematics even mean to you?

Marian Small might explain the notion of creativity in mathematics best. Take a look:

## Type 1 and Type 2 Questions

Several years ago, Marian Small tried to help us as math teachers see what it means to think and be creative in mathematics by sharing 2 different ways for our students to experience the same content. She called them “type 1” and “type 2” questions.

Type 1 problems typically ask students to give us the answer. There might be several different strategies used… There might be many steps or parts to the problem. Pretty much every Textbook problem would fit under Type 1. Every standardized test question would fit here. Many “problem solving” type questions might fit here too.

Type 2 problems are a little tricky to define here. They aren’t necessarily more difficult, they don’t need a context, nor do they need to have more steps. A Type 2 problem asks students to get to relationships about the concepts involved. Essentially, Type 2 problems are about asking something where students could have plenty of possible answers (open ended). Again, here is Marian Small describing some examples:

## Examples of Type 1 & 2 Questions

Notice that a type 2 problem is more than just open, it encourages you to keep thinking and try other possibilities! The constraints are part of what makes this a “type 2” problem! The creativity and interest comes from trying to reach your goal!

## Where do you look for “Type 2” Problems?

If you haven’t seen it before, the website called OpenMiddle.com is a great source of Type 2 problems. Each involve students being creative to solve a potential problem AND start to notice mathematical relationships.