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A Mathematician's Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form
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About the Author
Paul Lockhart became interested in mathematics when he was 14 (outside the classroom, he points out). He dropped out of college after one semester to devote himself exclusively to math. Based on his own research he was admitted to Columbia, received a PhD, and has taught at major universities. Since 2000 he has dedicated himself to "subversively" teaching grade-school math.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
As a relatively new mathematics teacher, I appreciate Lockhart's observations of the mathematics curriculum. I taught (college) trigonometry just before reading his Lament for the first time, and I was blown-away (and a little devastated) by the accuracy of his scathing description of that course:
"Two weeks of content are stretched to semester length by masturbatory definitional runarounds... students must learn to use the secant function, 'sec x,' as an abbreviation for the reciprocal of the cosine function, '1 / cos x' (a definition with as much intellectual weight as the decision to use '&' in place of 'and.') That this particular shorthand, a holdover from fifteenth century nautical tables, is still with us... is mere historical accident... Thus we clutter our math classes with pointless nomenclature for its own sake."
This book is an absolute necessity for anyone who wants to make sure their students actually enjoy mathematics. But be warned, if you view teaching mathematics as just a job, this book probably isn't for you.
Lockhart's passion for his subject is contagious. For a "math nerd," he's a very good writer. He's funny and at times poetic.This book should be inspiring to anyone with an independent interest in numbers for their own sake. Might also encourage people who are being forced to run the math gantlet in school. Math aside, it's a very entertaining piece of literature. Highly recommended.
I might reread this book. Perhaps that is the greatest praise I can give it.