Lesson unplanning: toward transforming routine tasks into non-routine problems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


How might teachers transform routine tasks into non-routine ones? The purpose of this article is to address this question. The article opens with a discussion of why non-routine problems require creative and original thought. Specifically, I discuss how non-routine problems require students to confront uncertainty and how uncertainty can serve as a catalyst for creative thought and action. Next, I discuss how the logic of routine tasks can impede original and creative thought. I then introduce the concept of lesson unplanning and explain how it can be used to convert routine tasks into non-routine problems. I also discuss how non-routine problems can range from more modest in-classroom assignments to more ambitious efforts. The paper closes with a brief discussion of directions for future research and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)987-993
Number of pages7
JournalZDM - Mathematics Education
Issue number7
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Creative thinking
  • Learning
  • Non-routine problems
  • Originality
  • Problem solving
  • Routine problems
  • Teaching
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Mathematics


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