The Best Writing on Mathematics, 2016

The 2016 anthology of writing on mathematics has been released by Princeton University Press.  I’m happy to say that the article that Katharine Beals and I wrote, which was published in The Atlantic (online) in November, 2015 made it to this selection.  The article (“Explaining Your Math: Unnecessary at Best, Encumbering at Worst“) received many comments–both hostile and supportive. In addition it propagated discussions on various math education blogs–again engendering hostile and supportive comments.

We argued that requiring students to explain their answer to math problems created more problems than it solved and did not offer the path to “understanding” that math reformers seem to think such practice achieves.  We stated that the math itself carries the explanation. It is one thing for a teacher to ask students questions about how they arrived at an answer, but quite another to require students–particularly those in lower grades–to do so in writing.

The introduction to the volume is online if you are interested. I was heartened to see that the editor (Marcea Pitici) was kind enough to also mention me in the same paragraph as e mentioned Jo Boaler and Carol Dweck.  This could be good, this could be bad.

“A great number of books on mathematics education are published every year; it is not feasible for me to mention all that literature. Here are a few recent titles that came to my attention: Confessions of a 21st Century Math Teacher and Math Education in the U.S. by our contributor Barry Garelick, What’s Math Got to Do with It? by Jo Boaler, Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler and Carol Dweck, More Lessons Learned from Research edited by Edward Silver and Patricia Ann Kenney, Assessment to Enhance Teaching and Learning edited by Christine Suurtamm, How to Make Data Work by Jenny Grant Rankin, and the refreshingly iconoclastic Burn Math Class by Jason Wilkes.”




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