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Burn Math Class: And Reinvent Mathematics for Yourself

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  126 ratings  ·  15 reviews
A manifesto for a mathematical revolution

Forget everything you've been taught about math. In Burn Math Class, Jason Wilkes takes the traditional approach to how we learn math -- with its unwelcoming textbooks, unexplained rules, and authoritarian assertions-and sets it on fire.

Focusing on how mathematics is created rather than on mathematical facts, Wilkes teaches the su
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 22nd 2016 by Basic Books
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Ryan Croke
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was a full professor at a top tier public university in applied mathematics and here is my opinion: Couldn't agree more with the premise, couldn't be more disappointed in the execution.

I have taught calculus to thousands of students and the author's passion for rethinking the presentation is on the money. I have fought this battle for so long and presenting the rigors of mathematics in a more accessible way and using a "ground-up" approach pays dividends. No doubt.

But where is the research ba
Mar 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Maybe 3 and 1/2 stars. Deductions for way too much explanation in the easy parts, and too many dialogues with fictional characters that sometimes got to be "too clever by half". The author is obviously very bright, but still, the book is quite followable. On that note, I remember picking up a title in a bookstore sometime ago by George Soros, and I can't remember its title because I said to a bookseller, "Why doesn't he just call it 'You'll never be as smart as me'?" Because it was so ridiculous ...more
Christian Morse
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mathematics
This is the best introduction to advanced mathematics I’ve ever read. It begins with basic properties of functions and works all the way up to infinite dimensional calculus.
Kristen Heimerl
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a clever book that serves a brilliant purpose: helping adults and students alike get rid of “bad math tapes” and start anew with mathematics. Is it possible to shift a mental mindset around a subject that has terrified millions? I think so. And if anyone can do it, it’s Jason Wilkes.

His premise is simple: the teaching of math in America is abhorrent—dull, long on memorization, and short on meaning and storytelling. Wilkes doesn’t want to teach us math, he wants to teach us to think by inve
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I agree with the beginning of this book. I believe the declaration of independence would be a great thing to have in the classroom. I think the explanations are good, but I don't think it helps understanding of math better.

I do believe that math education needs to be changed, but if you change math at the elementary level you will change math from the ground up.
Nicolas Bernard
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
The premise of the book is that there is a more logical way to teach and learn maths, in which more "advanced" notions should be taught first because it allows deriving so called "easier" notions without having to remember the latter by heart, being able to understand their construction. Spoiler: elephant in the room: using derivatives from 1st grade to prove all the maths you subsequently learn only makes sense once you understand maths better, not as an introduction.

As a note, I have a bachelo
Andrew Litfin
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-acquire
Word of warning: This book is not what you think it is. You might think you have an idea of what this book is, but it's probably not right. So what is this book?

This book starts from "let's assume the only things you know of are addition and multiplication," and goes all the way to "let's develop calculus of variations [which the book calls "cannibal calculus" {the book makes heavy use of eschewing standard terminology, so as to remind the reader that we are developing everything from scratch, w
Theodore Schwamm
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a high school math teacher who has not taught calculus and had taken calc, and related topics about 40 years ago. I really appreciated this book and it's constructive approach to the main theorems and concepts of calculus. Some of the chapters really gave me a better understanding of where e to the x comes from, how to find the value of pi, and where the Taylor Series come from. I understood the whole book with the exception of last part of the last chapter on Functionals.
I highly recommend
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am good at math (up to high school calculus), and like to read math, so I love this book. It teaches me to think about math in a completely different way than how I was taught math. I wish I had learned math from this book instead. It gave me so many "wow!" and "aha!" moments and thrilled me with the creativity of mathematicians. I wish I could understand the last chapter on infinite - dimensional calculus. Maybe one day, when I have a big chunk of time to spend on it! ...more
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the meat of this book (up until the last chapter or so) but the text of often too cutesy with silly digressions. The final chapter, about the calculus of variations (or calculus of "cannibal machines") felt rushed and compressed compared with the rest. ...more
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is strange but inspirational. It is like using a curved mirror to see something I've known for a very long time with fresh eyes. As I work on problems and read other math texts, I am now asking myself what parts of these are just "how math is done by us" and what parts are universal. ...more
Michael Lortz
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this book immensely. I wrote a review of it here:
Sandy Vanderbleek
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very good, I have a decent math background but had gotten out of touch with basic calculus. It seems very beginner friendly but I'll have to leave that the beginners to comment on. I wish there were exercises, and less digressions, that still doesn't take a point away from this unique effort to bring math education to everyone. ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I would give this a 4 if I was sticking to my personal rating system, but I can't bring myself to give it less than 5 because Wilkes is so unique and brilliant. An ambitious and enlightening book that I'm certain I'll revisit, and definitely won't forget. ...more
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