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The main aim of this work is to show how Operational Research (OR) can be profitability used as a methodological and didactical approach for the study of mathematics through the entire second level of Secondary Education with a strong multipurpose vocation .
As it has been highlighted in international studies the study of OR is very effective in stimulating motivation and could represent a concrete tool to improve the low mathematical performance of Italian students.
Until today, OR received little attention in the mathematics syllabus in Italy. This trend has been confirmed by the guidelines of the “Gelmini” reform of secondary education (Licei), since OR concepts are almost absent in its specific learning aims.
In this work we firstly give some information on OR teaching in Italy and worldwide, afterwards we give a brief synthesis about the performance of Italian students reported by the OCSE-PISA survey during the period 2003-2009, explaining the present relation between the tested competence levels and the capacity of our students in modeling and problem-solving. OR is therefore suggested as an intervention tool, in this situation of “mathematical emergency”. Moreover, could supply new and attractive instruments, inserting methods and elements derived from informatics into the working plans of mathematics.
Personal experiences as teacher of mathematics involved in the AIRO games since 2009 (the 2011 session still going on) have also been reported.