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The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions Hardcover – March 1, 2016

3.6 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for The Math Myth:
“In the meantime, it’s probably a good idea to give students multiple math pathways toward high school and college graduation—some less challenging than others. If we don’t, we’ll be punishing kids for the failures of an entire system.”

The Math Myth is a worthwhile read, even if you are among the educators who become apoplectic at the suggestion that students shouldn’t have to grapple with polynomial functions.”
National Book Review

“Not one to decelerate, at 86 [Hacker] is doing nothing less than taking on the mathosphere.”
New York Times Education Life

“Hacker's accessible arguments offer plenty to think about and should serve as a clarion call to students, parents, and educators who decry the one-size-fits-all approach to schooling.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A lively argument against the assumption that if the United States is to stay competitive in a global economy, our students require advanced training in mathematics.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Math Myth persuasively and satisfyingly debunks assertions about the practical value of requiring all students to master higher-level mathematics—and also points up the real harm caused by the Common Core standards and college-admission exams, which are constructed on those dubious claims. In a friendly and accessible style, Hacker, himself no slouch in terms of quantitative expertise, systematically demolishes every argument used to support the advanced-math-for-all position. His book is now my go-to resource on this topic.”
—Alfie Kohn, author of Schooling Beyond Measure and The Homework Myth

The Math Myth is an important book. Hacker demolishes some totally unrealistic policies that will prevent many students from ever receiving a high school diploma and leading useful lives.”
—Diane Ravitch, author of Reign of Error and The Death and Life of the Great American School System

The Math Myth vividly demonstrates that America’s uncritical celebration of school mathematics does a disservice to students, institutions of learning, and the wide array of urgent public needs. His book is important and timely—and a great read.”
—Howard Gardner, Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of The Unschooled Mind

“I love every single word and idea. Andrew Hacker may make some enemies, but truth is truth!”
—Debora Meier, author of In Schools We Trust and The Power of Their Ideas

“Andrew Hacker exposes the inconvenient truth that the majority of college students will never need to use quadratic equations in their majors and even fewer will ever need them on the job. Hacker shows convincingly that our current math curriculum has become too much of a good thing—an artificial barrier to the deeper learning at the heart of true vocations.”
—Anthony Carnevale, Director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Praise for Mismatch:
"Few people writing today for a general audience can make more sense of numbers."
The Wall Street Journal

Praise for Money:
"A political scientist doing with statistics what Fred Astaire did with hats, canes, and chairs…He doesn't crunch numbers, he makes them live and breathe."

Praise for Two Nations:
"His insights into the racial wounds that refuse to close are searing, and urgently need to be addressed."

"Witty at times and searingly direct."
Publishers Weekly

Praise for Higher Education?:
"Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus have written a lucid, passionate and wide-ranging book on the state of American higher education."
The New York Times

About the Author

Andrew Hacker is the author of ten books and teaches both political science and mathematics at Queens College. He lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (March 1, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1620970686
  • ISBN-13: 978-1620970683
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am a retired math educator who tell people I originally taught B.S. Math. The "B.S." stands for "Before Sputnik" since I began teaching in 1957. I've seen mathematics education change and re-change many times in the past 60 years. When I began teaching my first class I was convinced that everyone needed to advance as far in mathematics as possible to lead a fully-functioning adult life and attain the optimum livelihood. The more experience I gained in the profession ... from elementary teacher to middle school teacher to high school teacher to middle school principal and finally to a community college math full professorship ,,, the less I believed that everyone needed Algebra II, Geometry, Pre-calculus, Calculus, and so on to be able to deal successfully with the demands of the real world. The more experience I gained the more convinced I became that America's collective fear of math was due to the lock-step curriculum where a large majority of students were enrolled in math classes that had no reasonable relationship to the knowledge they had to have in their individual "real worlds," that their "real worlds" required little more than establishing comfort levels in basic arithmetic and a smattering of Algebra I concepts, that students needed see a personal utility in the material under study, and that teachers who taught concepts without linking them to practical application did huge disservices to their students. I'm not an author. Andrew Hacker is! He has written the book I would have liked to have written were I to have had the time, talent, and motivation. I heartily recommend reading it!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unfortunate that Hacker tried to use mathematics in his criticism of the current mathematics curriculum, because his math errors will distract mathematicians and other "STEM" practitioners from some basic truths.

For example:
In March of 2008, the National Mathematics Advisory Panel presented its Final Report to the President of the United States and the Secretary of Education:
"This Panel, diverse in experience, expertise, and philosophy, agrees broadly that the delivery system in mathematics education -- the system that translates mathematical knowledge into value and ability for the next generation -- is broken and must be fixed."

Since that time the "Common Core" math standards have replaced the various state standards that were for the most part derived from standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

However, an original goal of the NCTM, that all students should have the opportunity to learn mathematics, became "students will be required to learn mathematics." This requirement works for some students and punishes others. Many of the students who succesfully pass through the school maths gateway will quickly forget the topics they studied. In some cases, it's just as well, since the "mathematics" they are taught will be a collection of manipulative tricks that avoid real math understanding -- like the FOIL pseudo-algorithm for avoiding the binomial theorem.

Hacker points out the "myths" and "delusions" that keep our present broken system in place. THE MATH MYTH and Other STEM Delusions presents a detailed argument for alternatives to Algebra as a required school subject for all students.
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Format: Hardcover
If you care about education, read this book, and give it to every educator you know. Hacker is among the most original and astute observers of culture and education in our time. Like no other book to date, The Math Myth convincingly demands a comprehensive review of mathematics education, from K-12 to college. It debunks the accepted but unexamined notions that sustain the status quo even as they prevent students from becoming truly numerate—capable of navigating a world that increasingly demands a sophisticated sense of how numbers are used in every sphere. In clear, compelling language, Hacker demonstrates that too much of “higher,” school-based Math is both unnecessary and arcane -- even, perhaps especially, for those in the most common STEM careers. But the book’s greatest strength is its advocacy for a reconceived, engaging model of math education that would enlarge the minds and practical capacities of every kind of student—without being (as it often is) a barrier to academic success. Get this book: we are long overdue in addressing the issues it addresses with passion and clarity.

Mike Schmoker, author of Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning (ASCD 2011)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a math teacher myself, I have become very concerned about how much is being required of students at lower and lower grades. What was once a requirement of a seventh grader is now required of a fourth grade student. This book exposes many of the fallacies of our current educational system as it applies to the study of mathematics. I would like to see this book as required reading for all educators, especially those who are responsible for setting statewide curriculum requirements and college entrance requirements.
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