When I saw math, I was excited; math is a big deal in our house, and my eldest is now a math major in her junior year of college. We did plenty of math, and I fit our curriculum to each of our children’s needs. When I saw Prufrock Press, I was even more excited. After all, this is the press that gave us <b>Philosophy for Kids</b> one of our favourite books back when we homeschooled. But then I saw those dismal words “Aligns with Common Core Standards,” and then, inside, that Chamberlin is a Mathematical Educator, my heart sank. Nevertheless, I read every single page, hoping to find anything good, wonderful and commendable, and I did; it brought this rating up an entire star from what I give the entire mathematics philosophy of the Common Core to two stars.
The Pros – the activities in this book are well described, have excellent leading questions for teachers (whether in brick and mortar schools or at home) to help guide students in creative problem solving, and cover the six main areas of probability.
First, these assignments are based on activities that have worked for gifted and talented students and are designed for students with strong math skills. I can see this working for gifted and talented students who enjoy math and for other strong math students who enjoy being creative. However, and this is a big however that virtually every mathematical educator I have met with one main exception, there is no such thing as any sort of math learning method that will work for all math students, and this is certainly no exception to the rule.
Second, at no time, before during or after are students permitted to be taught algorithms. For those of you who have spent a good deal of time away from school, algorithms (an algorithm is a procedure or formula for solving a problem) are what mathematicians, engineers and people who actually use math in the real world use. Why? Because they work and because they save a great deal of time. While having students explore ways to figure out how to solve problems first can help them better understand what they are doing, this book has been designed to be used in three different age categories, including high school.
Third, I think there is so much emphasis on always being creative, that the word is going to lose its meaning. I am a big fan of creativity; my math loving eldest writes stories and draws, my other two aspire to be musicians and have various creative abilities. But there is no way that all three of them approach math with creativity, despite a strong foundation doing that with them when they were younger. The fact is, it didn’t always work, and if my three children weren’t able to learn all their math exactly the same way, what about classrooms of children?
However, if this book were used for the stellar activities and then students actually got to learn the alogrithms at some point, then I think this could be used effectively in some teaching situations.