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on March 22, 2013
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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on 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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on December 31, 2014
The first chapter of this book is great. The rest is a litany of contradictory, politically-correct rants. The first chapter is the reason I wanted to read the book; it talks about the difference between math as a collection of procedures (boring) vs. math as a way of thinking and problem-solving in the real world. Unfortunately, that's all that's good about this book. The remainder is pretty awful, full of highly questionable and contradictory statements. Example: The author covers what she calls the "math wars". She claims that she doesn't want to take sides - that her aim "is not to promote either [the traditional of the reform] curriculum", but she belittles anyone and everything having to do with teaching math in the traditional way. Reading this book, you would think that traditional teaching of math simply doesn't work at all, and that the reform methods lead to a kind of math utopia in which 100% of students excel in math and can't get enough of it. Example 2: She advocates "self-assessment and peer-assessment", stating that research has shown that students are quite accurate when they assess their own understanding and performance in math. Yet earlier in the book, she cites and example of a young man who says he clearly understood the math as he learned it using the traditional curriculum... and as she begins to walk away the teacher gives the student his test grade, which is an F. Example 3: She strongly advocates for "real world" math problems... yet she complains that a math test that uses a real-world example is discriminatory because students whose first language is not English won't understand the question. The book if full of politically-correct statements, e.g. "standardized tests discriminate against minorities" and "grades are harmful to students". The author advocates an "everyone gets a trophy" mentality throughout. There is an entire chapter on "How Girls and Women are Kept out of Math and Science". Even where I agree with the author, I see her line of argument as entirely one-sided and intellectually dishonest.
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on November 16, 2012
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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on March 13, 2010
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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on July 30, 2013
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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on December 4, 2014
What's Math Go To Do With It? and The Elephant in the Classroom by Jo Boaler are different versions of the same book. The first focuses on American classrooms, while the second takes a United Kingdom approach. While it's interesting to compare the different examples and approaches, they're basically the same book.

Boaler does an excellent job exploring the importance of math for today's digital citizens while discussing the need for changes in teaching practices.

If you're seeking a book that will generate discussion about changes that need to take place in to the math curriculum. This is a great resource to begin reflecting on current practices and exploring new directions.
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on February 16, 2014
The book is not as fun as the cover makes it look. Its more political than helpful. She makes some good points but I couldn't help but feel like she misrepresents the side of "traditional teaching" methods. She sees things as black and white and doesn't take into account that the two groups she discusses are not mutually exclusive. I didnt think this book was worth my time.
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on December 27, 2013
I ordered this book to learn more about teaching math, instead I get a critic of how bad teachers teach math, Not much in how to improve things. It does give some ok ideas, but I was hoping for more from an acclaimed Standford professor.
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on March 8, 2011
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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