Most helpful critical review
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Painful to read & full of political correctness
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.