A Mathematician's Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form

Lockhart, Paul

"One of the best critiques of current mathematics education I have ever seen."--Keith Devlin, math columnist on NPR's Morning Edition A brilliant research mathematician who has devoted his career to teaching kids reveals math to be creative and beautiful and rejects standard anxiety-producing teaching methods. Witty and accessible, Paul Lockhart's controversial approach will provoke spirited debate among educators and parents alike and it will alter the way we think about math forever. Paul Lockhart, has taught mathematics at Brown University and UC Santa Cruz. Since 2000, he has dedicated himself to K-12 level students at St. Ann's School in Brooklyn, New York. Editorial Reviews Publishers Weekly Like music or painting, says long-time math teacher (K-12 and college) Lockhart, mathematics is an art-"the art of explanation," "the music of reason"-and its method of instruction in American schools has reduced a "rich and fascinating adventure of the imagination... to a sterile set of facts to be memorized and procedures to be followed." With passionate reasoning, Lockhart unveils the creative, flexible, open-minded side of math; an early analogy casting music education in a math instruction model-students must study proper notation for years before attempting to, say, hum a tune-makes a brilliant introduction. Making a clear distinction between "facts and formulas" and "mathematics," Lockhart inspires a second look at received wisdom regarding math-that it's necessary to learn (do carpenters use trigonometry? Does anyone balance their checkbook without a calculator?), or that it has any direct connection to reality ("the glory of it is its complete irrelevance to our lives"). Though it features a thorough thrashing of current methods without suggesting how to fix the curriculum, Lockhart's slim volume (based on his widely-circulated essay) provides a fresh way of thinking about math, and education in general, that should inspire practical applications in the classroom and at home. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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