Henri Picciotto's

Math Education Newsletter

December 2022

These days, when not constructing cryptic crosswords for Out of Left Field, I've been working on a book on teaching math. As a result, not much is new on my blog or website, and this newsletter is shorter than usual. Still, you may find something useful, so read on!


Blog Posts

Here are links to posts on my Math Education Blog that you might find interesting.
If you are so moved, you may comment on the posts, and/or subscribe to the blog.

For Algebra

The Atlantic published an article by Temple Grandin. In there, she argues against the teaching of algebra to all students. This is a frequent theme in discussions of math education in US publications. As is usually the case in this genre, Grandin bases her argument on valid objections to bad teaching and bad educational policies. But bad teaching and bad policies do not justify an attack on algebra, which remains essential to any further study in any quantitative field. Once more unto the breach! I link to past posts on this topic, and defend algebra yet again here.

Classroom Basics

In this post, I address beginning teachers and outline the absolutely necessary ingredients of a functional math classroom. Our goal should be student intellectual engagement. To get there, teacher leadership is essential, as is some clarity on formal vs. informal modes. A formal atmosphere is required when trying to conduct a whole-class discussion. But a certain degree of informality (still under teacher control) is more conducive to effective individual and group work. I spell this out and link to relevant articles here.

Course Evaluations

This is a short essay where I argue for simplicity and openness in course evaluation forms.

New on my Web site.

There Is No One Way

Explanations and practice are not enough! If we want to reach all students and deepen their understanding, we need to use many different tools and approaches. I combined several blog posts into one article in which I argue for teacher eclecticism, and share a pedagogical framework.


Additions, Updates, and Tweaks...

...since my last newsletter:


Summer Workshops?


Every summer from 2007 to 2021, I offered summer workshops for teachers at various locations around the country. The most popular workshop was Visual Algebra — other topics ranged over much of secondary math. The goal was always to offer ideas for teaching the whole range of students: those who need more help, those who need more challenge, and everyone in between.

I did not offer summer workshops in 2022, and as it stands now, I'm not scheduled to offer any in 2023. Should your school (or other institution) want to host one, let me know! There are links to past workshops here.

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