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About Barry Garelick
Barry Garelick is a second-career math teacher in California. He majored in mathematics at the University of Michigan. He has written articles on math education that have appeared in the Atlantic, Nonpartisan Education Review, Education Next, Education News and AMS Notices. He is also the author of three books on math education.
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Titles By Barry Garelick
That's Barry Garelick's philosophy in a nutshell.
As the Mark Twain of education writing, this collection of essays chronicles Garelick s experiences at two schools, teaching math.
Garelick gives the reader a glimpse into the daily routines of math taught in a verité style and exposes a lot of the edu-talk that teachers hear they are supposed to do, and feel guilty about when they teach in the way they see fit.
Garelick states: “In writing these articles, I have often felt that I am explaining in detail why jumping out of an airplane without a parachute will result in death. And while I am heartened that my readers have found these articles useful, I am also disheartened when I hear the education establishment react with arguments that are tantamount to ‘Oh but if you jump out of an airplane the right way, you can survive.’ ”
Nevertheless there is a growing momentum in the U.S. against the well-intentioned but highly injurious nonsense that passes for math education. This collection of articles will assure those people who are convinced that it is being taught poorly that they are right.
“Barry Garelick is an invaluable source of clear-eyed analysis in a world of math education that is so often given over to fads, agendas, and assorted foolishness. Garelick approaches math instruction, curriculum, and reform with a studious expertise and a wry skepticism that is all too rare. His book will be a welcome resource for parents and teachers frustrated with math education and seeking hard-headed advice on what ought to be done differently.”
Frederick Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies at American Enterprise Institute
"A teacher, a parent and a mathematics major, Garelick's first-hand accounts of his experiences navigating the world of math education are all too familiar to those of us who have experienced the negative impact of educational fads in mathematics classrooms. This book is a must read for parents, teachers and anyone who cares about the way math is taught in North American schools."
Dr. Anna Stokke, associate professor of mathematics at the University of Winnipeg.
"Barry Garelick's highly readable volume of essays uses a diverse set of critical lenses to trace the stories of--and convincingly impugn--math-instructional ideals and methods that have not yet come close to fulfilling their proponents' promises. Required reading for anyone growing weary of all the lagging results, faddish terminology, and upside-down approaches they see across American K-12 mathematics instruction."
Eric Kalenze, author of “Education is Upside-Down”
“Those who criticize traditional methods of teaching math are prone to spout wise-sounding homilies about the need to “teach children to think like mathematicians. Barry Garelick understands that if you want kids to think like a mathematician you need to teach them some math, not wait for them to discover basic procedures on their own. For those stubbornly committed to learning math through discovery, here’s hoping they discover Garelick’s book.”
Robert Pondiscio, Senior Fellow and Vice President for External Affairs, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
"I am not an outright proponent of the philosophy that ‘If you want something done right, you have to live in the past’, but when it comes to how to teach math there are worse philosophies to embrace,” Barry Garelick explains as he continues from where he left off in his last book (“Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn”). He describes his experiences as a long-term substitute teacher at a high school and middle school. He teaches math as he best knows how while schools throughout California make the transition to the Common Core standards. It is the 50th anniversary of key historical events including the JFK assassination and the Beatles’ arrival in the U.S. It is also the 50th anniversary of his first algebra course, the technical and personal memories of which he uses to guide him through the 21st century educational belief system that is infused with Common Core and which surrounds him.
Adds Garelick: “ ‘Teaching Math in the 21st Century’ will never be required reading in any school of education in the United States. While this might be a great reason to read the book, it is also a shame because there is a serious lack of an honest discussion and debate on math education issues that really needs to happen in education schools and within the education establishment in general.”
"The book offers a brief glimpse into the eye of the storm that matters to kids, parents and teachers: the classroom as it functions under changing curricula and mindsets and how stakeholders deal with it. The book shows how great teachers are desperate to deliver a solid education in spite of proclamations from disconnected, poorly-grounded leaders; it shows how students just want to learn math and parents want to feel confident and informed about the education their kids are receiving." Matthew Tabor, editor, Education News
"If you want to know why a teacher without a political ax to grind and who is deeply committed to actual teaching would object to the Common Core--read this book!" David Olson, Asst Professor, Communications Studies, Southwestern University
"I tried to get started on the book, but found typos and grammar errors in the first paragraph of the introduction. I just can't read through something as poorly edited as this." Retired employee of National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (NOTE: The errors have been corrected!!)
FROM THE INTRODUCTION:
This book takes place in the 21st century and a school district in California. Like many districts in the U.S., it is married to the groupthink-inspired conception known as 21st century learning. Those who have fallen under the spell of this idea believe that today’s students live in the digital world where any information can be Googled, and facts are not as important as “learning how to learn”. It is a brave new world in which students must collaborate, be creative, work as a team and construct new meanings. In the world of 21st century learning, one prevailing belief is that procedures don’t stick; they are forgotten. Students are to be taught “learning skills”, “critical and higher order thinking” and “habits of mind” in order to prepare for jobs that have not yet been created.
"Few refuges exist from the multicolored tomes posing as math textbooks. No one is safe from this modern day invasion of the body snatchers. And just like in the movie, those with the power to do something have already been taken over by the seed pods of education school dogma." So writes Barry Garelick, using the name John Dewey in a set of letters that chronicles his journey through ed school as he pursues a second career as math teacher after retirement. A few years later, he wrote a second set of letters using the name Huck Finn, this time describing his experiences as a student teacher and then a substitute teacher. As Huck Finn he grapples with the "ideological, political and cultural divide in math education". In both sets of letters, John Dewey and Huck Finn learn more than they bargained for in ways that are both humorous and, ultimately, very human.
The book presents not only the process by which one becomes a math teacher, but also the "groupthink" that pervades education schools and other forms of the education establishment. The prevailing mode of thought views drills, practice and the learning of procedures as "rote learning" and prevents true "understanding". If students "understand", then everything else follows, according to the so-called experts that both John Dewey and Huck Finn rebel against. The letters from John Dewey originally appeared in the blog Edspresso. The letters from Huck Finn (with the exception of Chapter 10) originally appeared in the blog Out in Left Field, also in slightly different form. The letters achieved a following of readers who expressed their agreements and disagreements quite candidly in comments on the respective blogs. It became evident to many that the great divide in math education is quite real and discussed in detail in the book.
"Beautifully observed, these letters are a priceless multilayered collection–on one level, a passionate debate on math education–on another, a poignant and human look at the struggle to teach–and learn. Bursting with humor and heart, this book is a treasure and a pleasure to read."
Dennis Foon, author of The Longlight Legacy
"Garelick's book gives a gripping insider account of the world of K12 math education. Its refreshingly independent perspective validates key questions and concerns that aspiring math teachers might otherwise be uncomfortable pursuing."
Katharine Beals, author of Raising a Left Brain Child in a Right Brain World
"Part helmet-cam view, and part soapbox polemic, this piquant potpourri invites readers aboard the author's post-retirement adventure into math education. With humor and candor Barry Garelick offers a valuable primer for novice teachers and a hearty campfire retelling for hardened veterans -- friends and foes alike."
Dr. Robert Craigen, Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Manitoba, and co-founder of the Western Initiative for Strengthening Education in Mathematics