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  • 30 de April de 2024
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Reviews of Hung-Hsi Wu’s books for the mathematical education of school teachers

Reviews of Hung-Hsi Wu’s books for the mathematical education of school teachers

Reviews of Hung-Hsi Wu’s books for the mathematical education of school teachers

Prof. Hung-Hsi Wu is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley

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António De Bivar Weinholtz


For over half a century, the teaching of Mathematics in elementary, middle and high school has been the subject of intense debate among educators, mathematicians and politicians around the world [1]. Dramatic changes have been introduced throughout the past decades in maths curricula and teaching methods in many countries and, taking into account the consequences of these policies, it has become clearer and clearer how some of their main features may have had a strongly negative impact on the ability of students to learn real mathematics, exactly as predicted by certain critics. The fact that this is still non-consensual, mainly among math educators and politicians, and that in some countries we can still witness successive contradictory movements in the area of math education, shows just how important it is to have at our disposal works of unquestionable quality devoted to that beautiful part of Mathematics that can and should be taught to students in the pre-university grades.

Prof. Hung-Hsi Wu is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. He served on the USA National Mathematics Advisory Panel and he has been one of the main members of the mathematical community to devote years of professional activity to the improvement of the teaching of pre-university mathematics. He was the coordinator and one of the main authors of the Common Core Mathematics Standard, a milestone in the rebirth of a sound K-12 curriculum for American schools, that has served as an inspiration to similar movements in many other countries. For the past decade, he has committed himself to write a series of volumes covering this curriculum.

The books are written for school teachers, as fundamental instruments for their mathematical education both during pre-service years and for their professional development. They also aim to provide a much needed resource for authors of textbooks. As the author points out, they were written after more than ten years of experimentation, in an effort to teach mathematics to teachers and future teachers.

The books are written with the assumption, whose validity the author does an excellent job of explaining to the reader, that school mathematics is not a set of trivial topics that could be served to students with some degree of carelessness regarding the systematic and comprehensive approach that any mathematical theory requires, under the illusion that it is enough to comply with some more or less widely accepted, although rather arguable, pedagogical principles. On the contrary, to cite the author:

“If we want a coherent curriculum and a coherent progression of mathematics learning, we must have at least one default model of a logical, coherent presentation of school mathematics which respects students’ learning trajectory. It is unfortunately the case that, for a long time, such a presentation has not been readily available. The mathematical community has been derelict in meeting this particular social obligation.”

With these principles in mind, it is not difficult to guess that the reading of these volumes can be a delight to anyone with the ability to appreciate the beauty of the use of human reasoning in our quest to understand the world around us.

References for the full reviews of the set of six books:

[1] This text is adapted from the reviews the author has written for the European Mathematical Society magazine of the six books by Prof. Hung-Hsi Wu referred to below (cf. António de Bivar Weinholtz, Reviews of books by Hung-Hsi Wu: “Understanding Numbers in Elementary School Mathematics” Eur. Math. Soc. Mag. 122 (2021), pp. 66–67; “Teaching School Mathematics: Pre-Algebra” Eur. Math. Soc. Mag. 123 (2022), pp. 52–54; “Teaching School Mathematics: Algebra” Eur. Math. Soc. Mag. 125 (2022), pp. 50–52; “Rational Numbers to Linear Equations and Algebra and Geometry” Eur. Math. Soc. Mag. 127 (2023), pp. 63–65; “Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Beyond” Eur. Math. Soc. Mag. 129 (2023), pp. 61–63).

Source: educational EVIDENCE

Rights: Creative Commons

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