Teaching Math in the 21st Century

Teaching Math in the 21st Century

by Mr. Barry Garelick



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Teaching Math in the 21st Century by Mr. Barry Garelick

An honest and critical look at math education from the inside, from the author of "Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn" For anyone concerned with what Common Core is bringing about in the name of 21st century math education, STEM education, and "21st century skills, this book is a must-read.

"I am not an outright proponent of the philosophy that 'If you want something done right, you have to live in the past', but when it comes to how to teach math there are worse philosophies to embrace," Barry Garelick explains as he continues from where he left off in his last book ("Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn"). He describes his experiences as a long-term substitute teacher at a high school and middle school. He teaches math as he best knows how while schools throughout California make the transition to the Common Core standards. It is the 50th anniversary of key historical events including the JFK assassination and the Beatles' arrival in the U.S. It is also the 50th anniversary of his first algebra course, the technical and personal memories of which he uses to guide him through the 21st century educational belief system that is infused with Common Core and which surrounds him.

Adds Garelick: " 'Teaching Math in the 21st Century' will never be required reading in any school of education in the United States. While this might be a great reason to read the book, it is also a shame because there is a serious lack of an honest discussion and debate on math education issues that really needs to happen in education schools and within the education establishment in general."

"The book offers a brief glimpse into the eye of the storm that matters to kids, parents and teachers: the classroom as it functions under changing curricula and mindsets and how stakeholders deal with it. The book shows how great teachers are desperate to deliver a solid education in spite of proclamations from disconnected, poorly-grounded leaders; it shows how students just want to learn math and parents want to feel confident and informed about the education their kids are receiving." Matthew Tabor, editor, Education News

"If you want to know why a teacher without a political ax to grind and who is deeply committed to actual teaching would object to the Common Core--read this book!" David Olson, Asst Professor, Communications Studies, Southwestern University

"I tried to get started on the book, but found typos and grammar errors in the first paragraph of the introduction. I just can't read through something as poorly edited as this." Retired employee of National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (NOTE: The errors have been corrected!!)


This book takes place in the 21st century and a school district in California. Like many districts in the U.S., it is married to the groupthink-inspired conception known as 21st century learning. Those who have fallen under the spell of this idea believe that today's students live in the digital world where any information can be Googled, and facts are not as important as "learning how to learn". It is a brave new world in which students must collaborate, be creative, work as a team and construct new meanings.

In the world of 21st century learning, one prevailing belief is that procedures don't stick; they are forgotten. Students are to be taught "learning skills", "critical and higher order thinking" and "habits of mind" in order to prepare for jobs that have not yet been created.

In short, it is an educational orientation that I and others like me 1) do not believe in and 2) find ourselves immersed in. It was the underlying belief system in which I had to work during two long-term sub assignments which are the subject of the book you are about to read.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781511632881
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 04/12/2015
Pages: 162
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.35(d)

About the Author

Barry Garelick is a parent and advocate for better mathematics programs in U.S. Schools. He has a degree in mathematics from University of Michigan. After retiring from the federal government, he received his California credential to teach math in secondary schools and is teaching middle and high school math. He has written articles on math education for The Atlantic, Education Next, Educational Leadership and Education News. He and his wife and daughter live in California.

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Teaching Math in the 21st Century 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
butterfly3 More than 1 year ago
Barry eloquently describes what the state of math education is from the inside. He faces challenges in a world where basics and procedures in Algebra are no longer appreciated. In a world, where the Common Core implementation is eroding the basic foundation of Algebra, Barry paints a genuine picture of what is truly necessary for students to succeed in mathematics. He paints an accurate picture of what it is like to teach in a world where explanation is more important than mastery. Math is elegant. Math teaches critical thinking skills that are necessary in any job whether that job involves "x"'s and "y"'s. Math teaches students how to problem systemically and teaches how to solve problems step by step. Every job requires those skills.