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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-read
This book, believe it or not, is a page-turner! As someone who works with children, I read with fascination Dr. Boaler's description of exactly what I have seen among my students, my own children, and even my friends: how math in school has alienated so many of us from its true nature and its usefulness in the real world. The first half of the book identifies problems...
Published on July 26, 2008 by Elizabeth B.

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39 of 58 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What's Reality Got to Do With It?
This book is very good for understanding the feelings behind the reform math movement. But I give it only one star because it is so far out of touch with real math teaching and authentic research.

The problem reform math has with providing sufficient rigor is not addressed in the book. Traditional math advocates are most often concerned with the lack of rigor...
Published on August 7, 2009 by Isabel D'ambrosia


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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-read, July 26, 2008
This book, believe it or not, is a page-turner! As someone who works with children, I read with fascination Dr. Boaler's description of exactly what I have seen among my students, my own children, and even my friends: how math in school has alienated so many of us from its true nature and its usefulness in the real world. The first half of the book identifies problems and why they are urgent, and the last half shows some things we we can do about it. It also has a lot of references so that when I talk to parents I have some back-up. I am so glad I read it and think it is a must-read for parents and teachers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book any Math Teacher or Parent can EVER read, March 22, 2013
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This review is from: What's Math Got to Do with It?: How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject (Paperback)
I just wish those in charge of testing would read this book--then we could potentially teach kids challenging math instead of rote math, and turn out problem-solvers instead of human calculators.

Honestly, as a Math Teacher and as a mother, this is the best book I have ever encountered on the topic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very insightful, November 16, 2012
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a highly recommended read if you want to understand US math education and get a good perspective on it. I would recommend it to any parent of a school aged child, particularly with all changes in US education system taking place nowadays.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, July 30, 2013
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This review is from: What's Math Got to Do with It?: How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject (Paperback)
Every math teacher should read this book, since it provides an interesting and fun way to teach the common core standards. The main theme of the book is how to engage students in math through problem solving, including math puzzles. The author contributes to the "math wars", as Jo Boaler refers to, by being biased against direct teaching. I don't predict too many non-math educators enjoying this book.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fixing the American Math Challenge, March 13, 2010
By 
Frank D. Lock (Gainesville, GA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Jo Boaler is the Marie Curie Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Sussex in England, and has written an enjoyable and important book about mathematics education in our public schools. For the last seven years of my high school teaching career I employed "modeling" strategies to teach both chemistry and physics. In the workshop preparing me to employ the strategies, I had an astounding revelation about the relationship between physics and math. As I read pages 125 - 126 in Boaler's book I had a similar revelation about a math technique used by every algebra student. I found a great deal of joy in that revelation and I found both joy and dismay throughout the book.
In the chapter titled "What's Going Wrong in Classrooms," Boaler cites the importance of effective teachers in school success, and indicates that "Good teachers can make mathematics exciting even with a dreary textbook." She describes our silent math classrooms where students feel "disempowered and disenfranchised." She identifies the heart of the problem, writing "Over time, schoolchildren realize that when you enter Mathland you leave your common sense at the door."
Boaler opens chapter nine with a statement that I found to be true during my thirty-five years as a science teacher; "I'm a big supporter of public education, but it is hard to get away from the fact that math teaching across America is of low quality." The chapter concludes with details about numerous books and web sites that have information that can be used immediately. In concluding, Boaler writes "Mathematicians will tell you that the subject they care so much about is a living, connected and beautiful subject. This book is about giving all children, not only an elite few, the same important insights.
I feel very fortunate to have read this book and I am motivated to work to implement the ideas and strategies Jo Boaler advocates. Every person concerned with STEM education issues should read this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss This Book, March 8, 2011
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A book review in the January 2011 edition of The American Mathematical Monthly highly recommended What's Math Got To Do With It? Having read the book, I recommend it without reservation to any teacher of mathematics from elementary school through college and to parents of children in math classes at any level. Jo Boaler is an internationally known expert in mathematics education and a scholarly advocate of the mathematics reform movement. In addition to all the interesting studies that Dr. Boaler presents in support of her positions, the book has the benefit of being a very easy read. So much of what she said rang true to me based upon my experiences as a student and a teacher in math classes and upon my work in industry as a mathematical modeler.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every parent and teacher should read this book!, February 6, 2011
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This review is from: What's Math Got to Do with It?: How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject (Paperback)
This book is written for parents and teachers and provides a realistic view of what is happening in today's schools regarding mathematics.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Reading, September 11, 2010
By 
DC Sistah (Atlanta, GA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What's Math Got to Do with It?: How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject (Paperback)
This book is a straight-forward, easy to read analysis of why so many of us HATE math, why it is so important for schools to turn this situation around, and what we can do to change the situation. Boaler argues that the math that we learn in school is no longer the math that we need in our lives and provides excellent examples to illustrate her points.

A must - read for all parents of school-aged children as well as citizens who want to understand how we can solve this critical problem.
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39 of 58 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What's Reality Got to Do With It?, August 7, 2009
This book is very good for understanding the feelings behind the reform math movement. But I give it only one star because it is so far out of touch with real math teaching and authentic research.

The problem reform math has with providing sufficient rigor is not addressed in the book. Traditional math advocates are most often concerned with the lack of rigor in reform curricula. Boaler provides anecdotes about certain classes of reform math students doing well on certain standardized tests - and a lot of time denigrating the tests they do not perform well on - but she doesn't speak to how reform students perform in college.

Math remediation rates are in excess of 50% for students entering college in Washington State (kids entering college need to take high-school level classes in college before they are ready for real college work). Reform math does not seem to be addressing that.

All of her ideas assume an excellent teacher. The anecdotes about Railside and with the summer school are all really about an excellent teacher stepping in and communicating a love of math to kids. Boaler is obviously a very inspiring math teacher herself, but she says little in the way of how an average teacher can miraculously get the same results.

My third big problem is her lack of scientific research. It's well documented that Boaler does not do peer-reviewed research. Her "research" is anecdotes from hand chosen students and schools with specific, excellent teachers. She has never provided data to back up her conclusions like a real scientist. Boaler has opinions; not science. Her opinions are interesting, but her research should not be treated representing facts.

I did like some of the things she said -

The discussion of "number flexibility" or number sense or how to "de-compose and re-compose" numbers was very good and it makes a lot of sense. I've seen my kids doing that, and my engineer husband has always done that. She is right that it wasn't taught before, and I agree that it's an improvement to include it in math classes.

I like the idea of "math talks" for better understanding of the material. But again, whether that works depends heavily on the teacher.

Tracking:

Kids will not be able to take calculus in high school unless they're in the "honors" math track. They need algebra in 8th grade in order to get through geometry, trig/alg 2, pre-calculus and calculus in high school. I guess if these were all provided in a de-tracked environment, parents might be more willing - but there aren't enough years to fit it all in. Boaler outlines a way it can all fit, but it sounds kind of expensive and risky (90 minute classes, cramming a full year of math into ˝ year). I notice that Boaler does not recommend de-tracking unless this course of study is in place.

I can't believe Boaler gets away with saying that Japan does not use tracking in its school system. Japanese elementary students are not tracked, but every single Japanese high school student is tracked. Japanese public high schools are each rated for academic rigor (a variety of rigor/track options are provided) and students must take a high-stakes test to get in. Schools offering more rigor are harder to test into and are in great demand. My brother-in-law just got back from teaching English in Japan. He worked in the low-track high school for a time. Again - I just can't believe Boaler can get away with saying Japan does not track.

Boaler maintains her "research" shows that lower level students do much better when classes are not tracked. Real (peer-reviewed) research on tracking shows that the high-track students do better when tracked and the low students score the same in tracked or de-tracked classes (no effect).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Math has everything to do with it!, August 5, 2013
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A great way to think about education in general and math in particular. I recommend reading chapters 6, 7, and 8 about math thinking first and then going back to the more politically provacative chapters. That way you have a picture of the teaching and learning that the author advocates. The author is offering a free on-line course for teachers and parents In July-August 2013 and a course for math students in the fall of 2013, through Stanford. I am trying the adult course, inspired by the book.
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