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The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths

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Techniques and strategies for teachers to use in interesting their pupils in mathematics.


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Techniques and strategies for teachers to use in interesting their pupils in mathematics.

30 review for The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths

  1. 4 out of 5

    Al

    Made me fall in love with Maths again, and I'm a History Teacher! Raises really improtant and interesting questions and ideas about teaching any subject. Written for specialists and non-specialists in mind, even I could follow it. Made me fall in love with Maths again, and I'm a History Teacher! Raises really improtant and interesting questions and ideas about teaching any subject. Written for specialists and non-specialists in mind, even I could follow it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leanne

    Fantastic book to read for any teacher or parent, well written and covers many topics currently taught on PGDE courses

  3. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    What's Math Go To Do With It? and The Elephant in the Classroom by Jo Boaler are different versions of the same book. The first focuses on American classrooms, while the second takes a United Kingdom approach. While it's interesting to compare the different examples and approaches, they're basically the same book.[return][return]Boaler does an excellent job exploring the importance of math for today's digital citizens while discussing the need for changes in teaching practices.[return][return]If What's Math Go To Do With It? and The Elephant in the Classroom by Jo Boaler are different versions of the same book. The first focuses on American classrooms, while the second takes a United Kingdom approach. While it's interesting to compare the different examples and approaches, they're basically the same book.[return][return]Boaler does an excellent job exploring the importance of math for today's digital citizens while discussing the need for changes in teaching practices.[return][return]If you're seeking a book that will generate discussion about changes that need to take place in to the math curriculum. This is a great resource to begin reflecting on current practices and exploring new directions.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Serena

    This book is a very interesting read. For teachers, parents or anyone wanting to learn more about the teaching of mathematics and how valuable it really is in education and beyond. There are a wide range of maths problems discussed in this book, with a variety of references to different research, strategies and interesting mathematical questions to use at home or in the classroom. I did notice that parts are often quite repetitive. However, this does help remind the reader of the important conne This book is a very interesting read. For teachers, parents or anyone wanting to learn more about the teaching of mathematics and how valuable it really is in education and beyond. There are a wide range of maths problems discussed in this book, with a variety of references to different research, strategies and interesting mathematical questions to use at home or in the classroom. I did notice that parts are often quite repetitive. However, this does help remind the reader of the important connections in mathematics and how the teaching strategies intertwine with how children learn and process mathematics. Points made in the book that I particularly found interesting: - Mixed attaining groups and why this is important. However, this would be difficult to implement where the gap between children’s prior attainment is large. I would have valued more examples of how to do this successfully when children are at vastly different levels. - How traditional teaching of procedures, methods and memorisation are damaging to young children and does not help them learn in comparison to flexible, problem-solving teaching. - Allowing children to talk in mathematics and explain their ideas to the teacher and their peers supports their learning. - The importance of manipulatives/resources and diagrams. Research has shown that different areas of the brain are activated when children learn maths visually compared to just number sentences. Therefore, more learning occurs when this is implemented. - The stereotypes around mathematics for girls and women, and how to steer away from these damaging views and support females through their mathematical journeys.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Blaukopf

    I love this book. It is a guiding light. The author's writing and research is very insightful. Every parent of a school-aged child should read this. I love this book. It is a guiding light. The author's writing and research is very insightful. Every parent of a school-aged child should read this.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    A book every math teacher should read. It's already changed some of the things I do in my classroom and made me proud and assured of some practices I employed previous to reading it. A book every math teacher should read. It's already changed some of the things I do in my classroom and made me proud and assured of some practices I employed previous to reading it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    James Hodgson

    It's difficult to argue with the thesis of the book that mathematics should be taught in a more holistic way, focused on real-world problems, and helping pupils to make connections and to verbalise their thinking, rather than as a purely formal or rote exercise where pupils don't have any real idea what they're doing. So much so, in fact, that I thought this was a bit of a straw-man argument, as no maths teacher worth their salt would be opposed to such an approach on principle. I was increasing It's difficult to argue with the thesis of the book that mathematics should be taught in a more holistic way, focused on real-world problems, and helping pupils to make connections and to verbalise their thinking, rather than as a purely formal or rote exercise where pupils don't have any real idea what they're doing. So much so, in fact, that I thought this was a bit of a straw-man argument, as no maths teacher worth their salt would be opposed to such an approach on principle. I was increasingly frustrated by several aspects of Boaler's argument, which I'll sketch here as others may find it useful. Firstly, her rather cosmopolitan worldview, which she shares, quite ironically, with her bete noire in this book, the former UK Education Secretary Michael Gove. The idea that teaching practices can simply be transplanted from one country (e.g. South Korea, Japan) and used in another (the UK, the USA) absent any discussion of background culture and history of public education in those countries is debatable, to say the least. Much of the book seems to bemoan the fact that the educational culture in the USA is not what it is Boaler's preferred contexts. That may be true, but, absent a complete shift in social attitudes and educational priorities, it's not at all clear what the point being made here is. It would have been more useful for Boaler to sketch a road-map for piecemeal educational reform, but none appears in the book. Instead all we get is her final cry of "Viva la Revolution!" which, while no doubt tongue-in-cheek, exposes the flaw in her argument. Secondly, Boaler's approach seemed to be geared towards more extroverted learners. Getting students to talk about their thinking is useful and can help with mathematical cognition. But I was left with a lingering suspicion that students who are more introverted, and just want to be left alone to get on with maths work and figure things out for themselves, would be quickly frustrated with her approach and even come to regard maths classes as a waste of time. For someone apparently sensitive to the plurality of ways of learning, I thought her approach was remarkably 'one size fits all'. There's also a question of how to manage group dynamics in a classroom, which could be very demanding. Boaler touches on this but, again, there isn't much detail. Thirdly, I thought her remarks on gendered learning were rather odd. She makes the argument that girls seem to be more philosophical than boys, as the former want to understand the conceptual background to maths and stop to ask more profound questions, while the latter just get on with the task at hand. While I found it fairly amusing that, under Boaler's categories, from my own school experience I tended towards the more 'female' end of the spectrum, I think this highlights that if this difference does exist, then it's more of a spectrum than a sharp division. And it's not clear what we should do about it, practically speaking, other than run different maths classes for different genders, which would be hugely problematic for all kinds of social and moral reasons. Overall, it's an interesting, well-written book and contains a lot of good resources. It could be that some or all of the points I've raised here are dealt with in more detail on her website or in her other research and publications. But the book itself is more a work of advocacy rather than a balanced analysis. While there's nothing wrong with that, it doesn't really consider the broader questions or make any fine-grained policy proposals, and therefore is limited on its own terms.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Linton

    Jo Boaler presents a case for ideal mathematics teaching, which would require a complete overhaul of mathematics education in this country. The aim that she aspires to is a maths classroom where students can be creative and engage in what some call 'real mathematics'. Of course if maths were engaging and filled with puzzles where students could discover patterns indepedently then it would be brilliant. Though a large concern is that it would require a complete re-working of maths education start Jo Boaler presents a case for ideal mathematics teaching, which would require a complete overhaul of mathematics education in this country. The aim that she aspires to is a maths classroom where students can be creative and engage in what some call 'real mathematics'. Of course if maths were engaging and filled with puzzles where students could discover patterns indepedently then it would be brilliant. Though a large concern is that it would require a complete re-working of maths education starting with government policy and including new assessment methods, more training for teachers and many more large-scale changes. While this book does present a new ideal maths teaching style it is almost impossible to imagine it coming into effect due to the lack of government support for education.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Faye Ulph

    This book is incredible!! I was glued to it from the start! It has opened my eyes to the reasons behind why so many people have an inner fear of maths and describe themselves as just not good with numbers. It also explains to me the reasons why I have little confidence in maths and struggle often with real situations even though I left school with an A in Maths GCSE. This book is full of strategies to start a fresh positive outlook regarding maths and support our students today ! I would recomme This book is incredible!! I was glued to it from the start! It has opened my eyes to the reasons behind why so many people have an inner fear of maths and describe themselves as just not good with numbers. It also explains to me the reasons why I have little confidence in maths and struggle often with real situations even though I left school with an A in Maths GCSE. This book is full of strategies to start a fresh positive outlook regarding maths and support our students today ! I would recommend highly to teachers and parents and anyone who has been bugged by Maths either in a good or bad way!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jas Shearsmith

    An incredible book that provides huge insight into the classroom, the challenges teachers face, especially in mathematics and key ways of the impact of various scenarios based in extensive research and how to overcome those. Just in the preface you learn that mathematics can be learned to a high level by any child and later on I learned that mathematics underpins creativity and design. So all of those creatives thinking they aren't mathematical, you're wrong, you're just applying it more creativ An incredible book that provides huge insight into the classroom, the challenges teachers face, especially in mathematics and key ways of the impact of various scenarios based in extensive research and how to overcome those. Just in the preface you learn that mathematics can be learned to a high level by any child and later on I learned that mathematics underpins creativity and design. So all of those creatives thinking they aren't mathematical, you're wrong, you're just applying it more creatively and vocationally.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Jarman

    A great book about the challenges that children face in learning maths. Chapters on assessment, gender, differentiation and talk amongst others. There are two chapters at the end of the book for parents to help support children in their maths learning. A really eye opening read - some sections totally blew my mind and changed my perspective on teaching maths. Would recommend!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nigel Lungenmuss-Ward

    This book is fantastic for any teacher or parent that wants to gain insight into raising attainment and interest in mathematics. Boaler provides insight into how mathematics is traditionally taught and outlines her methods and research on what she considers to be the future of mathematics teaching. She also provides lists of many different sources, such as: books, games, websites and apps that are available to engage children. This books aim is to change the perception that mathematics is abstra This book is fantastic for any teacher or parent that wants to gain insight into raising attainment and interest in mathematics. Boaler provides insight into how mathematics is traditionally taught and outlines her methods and research on what she considers to be the future of mathematics teaching. She also provides lists of many different sources, such as: books, games, websites and apps that are available to engage children. This books aim is to change the perception that mathematics is abstract and boring. I can say that it has achieved that end with me!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Wilson

    Really thought provoking and useful in understanding how the love/hate divide in maths arises, as well as offering solutions to put a positive spin for those who don’t feel they “get it”. Excellently written.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Duffy

    Jo Boaler’s philosophy in teaching Maths is inspiring and positive. Definitely the way forward. Makes a great case for the constructive approach to teaching Maths and shows the limitations that traditional methods provide. I agree with her sentiment at the end: ‘Viva la Revolution!’

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    One that I will return to through the year.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tang Meiqing

    Interesting read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julie Huxtable

    An inspiring read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Huw

    Jo boaler is brilliant and she's written a very accessible book. Jo boaler is brilliant and she's written a very accessible book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Lee

    I was rather torn between giving this 5 stars and the 3 that I actually gave it. The thing is that what Boaler writes makes a lot of sense. It seems that if you divide problems into the parts that a computer can do and those which need human insight, for some reason we are teaching children to do the computer parts. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone teaching mathematics or who wants to help their children with the subject. Boaler sees this as a manifesto for a new way of teaching m I was rather torn between giving this 5 stars and the 3 that I actually gave it. The thing is that what Boaler writes makes a lot of sense. It seems that if you divide problems into the parts that a computer can do and those which need human insight, for some reason we are teaching children to do the computer parts. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone teaching mathematics or who wants to help their children with the subject. Boaler sees this as a manifesto for a new way of teaching maths. If all maths were taught this way then students would do much better. The trouble is that this assumes that you can control teaching in a top-down way, and doesn't take into account the alternative, which I'll call the Inspirational Teacher viewpoint. High achieving people often point to a specific teacher that set them on their way, The thing about teaching is that most of us have been exposed to more than ten thousand hours of it, and so know that most teachers are so-so at best. Boaler quotes research to support the superiority of her methods over traditional ones, but I would note that the it was the teachers who chose to apply the methods, and so are more likely to be of the inspirational sort. In the hands of so-so teachers the new methods can lead to the following problems: *Mixed ability: Students are given sheets of problems to work through while the teacher's time is taken up with disruptive pupils. *Taking university maths as an inspiration: New Math *Asking students to explain their working: Just becomes another drudge (https://www.theatlantic.com/education...) *Active learning: Students resort to 'putting on an act' (Freedom to Learn: The Threat to Student Academic Freedom and Why It Needs to Be Reclaimed)I'd note here that Boaler seems ambivalent about the idea of 'performance' In the preface one of the criticisms of traditional teaching is that students 'think they are in maths classrooms to perform', but by page 30 we are encouraged to think that 'Mathematics is a performance'. Boaler is clearly an inspirational teacher, and doesn't seem to realise that her methods can't be simply transplanted into other teachers. This would be OK if these were new ideas, but there have been arguments over such teaching for over 50 years, and she must have encountered criticisms such as those above, but there is hardly any attempt to deal with them in the book. In the same vein, I couldn't find a discussion forum on her website youcubed.org, which I felt was rather ironic since discussion is promoted as an important part of learning mathematics Finally, I'd note that at the end of the book the publishers have included adverts for other maths books they publish - but the first two deal with speed mental arithmetic, going totally against the message of the book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Henrik Haapala

    Revolution in learning. “Mathematics is a performance, a living act, a way of interpreting the world. Imagine music lessons in which students worked through hundreds of hours of sheet music, adjusting the notes on the page, receiving ticks and crosses from the teachers, but never playing the music. Students would not continue with the subject because they would never experience what music was. Yet this is the situation that continues in mathematics classes, seemingly unabated. Those who use mathe Revolution in learning. “Mathematics is a performance, a living act, a way of interpreting the world. Imagine music lessons in which students worked through hundreds of hours of sheet music, adjusting the notes on the page, receiving ticks and crosses from the teachers, but never playing the music. Students would not continue with the subject because they would never experience what music was. Yet this is the situation that continues in mathematics classes, seemingly unabated. Those who use mathematics engage in mathematical performances, they use language in all its forms, in the subtle and precise ways that have been described, in order to do something with mathematics. Students should not just be memorizing past methods; they need to engage, do, act, perform, problem solve, for if they don’t use mathematics as they learn it they will find it very difficult to do so in other situations, including examinations.” p.30 Visit: https://www.youcubed.org/resources/fo...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Jackson Queiroz

    I liked this book because it opens your eyes about math and includes many different studies and some good reference books. I just gave it 4 stars because for me it was hard to read through and understand all the studies and get really sucked into the book. I started reading this book at the same time as What´s Math Got to Do With It? and I thought the second book was so much easier to understand. I also like that What´s Math Got to Do With It? focuses more on the U.S., includes common core, and I liked this book because it opens your eyes about math and includes many different studies and some good reference books. I just gave it 4 stars because for me it was hard to read through and understand all the studies and get really sucked into the book. I started reading this book at the same time as What´s Math Got to Do With It? and I thought the second book was so much easier to understand. I also like that What´s Math Got to Do With It? focuses more on the U.S., includes common core, and a lot of the same studies but written in a way that are easier to understand.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    Very accessible, not just for those teaching maths. With sections basically for everyone including teachers, students, and parents, this small book (compared to others) is really quite good. It comes with some puzzles and really stresses what maths is as opposed to what maths is taught to be. Very easy read but a good one none the less. Recommended for anyone who is interested in Maths/education or learning. 4*

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matt Morley

    I was inspired by Boaler's passion and desire to see young people learn maths in a creative and dynamic setting, and was won over by her arguments for mixed ability sets, and the effective employment of group work. I would have appreciated more practical ways that I could transfer this to my classroom practice, although my pupils have benefited from her 'number talks' ideas. An excellent read, Boaler's work is very important. I was inspired by Boaler's passion and desire to see young people learn maths in a creative and dynamic setting, and was won over by her arguments for mixed ability sets, and the effective employment of group work. I would have appreciated more practical ways that I could transfer this to my classroom practice, although my pupils have benefited from her 'number talks' ideas. An excellent read, Boaler's work is very important.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gerald

    A good book... only problem is, it didn't tell me anything I didn't know and won't be read by the people that need to read it. But hey ho. Doesn't mean it shouldn't have been written. Some of the research projects are great. A good book... only problem is, it didn't tell me anything I didn't know and won't be read by the people that need to read it. But hey ho. Doesn't mean it shouldn't have been written. Some of the research projects are great.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Keranjit Kaur

    A fantastic book to make you think about how maths is taught. I have always loved learning about maths and teaching it. Many of the reluctant mathematicians in my class have grown to love maths with the enthusiasm that I have shared with them. I would recommend this to anyone who teaches maths.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    My first read of the holiday and it's a book about work. Interesting, though. My first read of the holiday and it's a book about work. Interesting, though.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Really interesting and enlightening - challenged a number of preconceptions I had about maths teaching.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    I read this as I'm about to start my teacher training in a months time, it's an excellent read which raises some very interesting points. I read this as I'm about to start my teacher training in a months time, it's an excellent read which raises some very interesting points.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brendon

    Essential reading for all teachers.

  30. 4 out of 5

    James

    I loved parts of this book and found others a bit tedious - a bit preachy. The best part was the chapter on SATs and tests in th UK. The author was spot on with her views.

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