So, did the experiment work?
It was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The class solved the problem by throwing everything in. No one went into lesson thinking it would be easy. As the children weren’t judging themselves on whether they reached the answer, they could enjoy the struggle.
The interaction was excellent; ideas jotted down, diagrams added to explain, discarded ideas crossed through. Children moved around the class comparing methods in a constant hubbub of chat!
Finding the way to the answer involved going down many wrong paths. But there may be something of use in the wrong paths. We came to realise that the answer was almost an off-shoot of the lesson. It didn’t matter as much because you were still doing maths.
They were thinking hard, working with many people, sharing ideas to spark other ideas, and tackling problems alongside the teacher on a level playing field. No one admitted to being stuck, and no one gave up. If an idea led up a cul-de-sac, then you tried another way.