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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  290 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Techniques and strategies for teachers to use in interesting their pupils in mathematics.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 4th 2009 by Souvenir Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book to read for any teacher or parent, well written and covers many topics currently taught on PGDE courses
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 ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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. ...more
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked 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. ...more
James Hodgson
Sep 11, 2020 rated it liked it
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
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Faye Ulph
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jas Shearsmith
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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!
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 ...more
Naomi Wilson
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Michelle Duffy
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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!’
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
One that I will return to through the year.
Tang Meiqing
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting read.
Julie Huxtable
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring read.
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jo boaler is brilliant and she's written a very accessible book. ...more
Stephen Lee
Jul 26, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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
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 ...more
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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*
Matt Morley
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: education
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.
Keranjit Kaur
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
My first read of the holiday and it's a book about work. Interesting, though. ...more
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, maths
Really interesting and enlightening - challenged a number of preconceptions I had about maths teaching.
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading for all teachers.
Apr 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
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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Dr Jo Boaler is a Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University and co-founder of Formerly the Marie Curie Professor of Mathematics Education for England, a mathematics teacher in London comprehensive schools and a researcher at King's College, London. She is the author of eight books including What's Math Got To Do With It? (2015) and Mathematical Mindsets (2016). Sh ...more

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