
Sherman K Stein
Strength in numbers
Many people have been turned off mathematics by the memorisation of seemingly meaningless facts in school. In Strength in numbers : discovering the joy and power of mathematics in everyday life Sherman K Stein shows that it doesn't have to be this way. He gives an easy to follow explanation of some of the key areas of school mathematics, including why minus × minus equals plus, pythagoras's theorem and the area of a circle. He even gets on to look at calculus. But my impression is that this book isn't really aimed at those who are currently struggling with learning this mathematics at school.
In fact I feel that today's schoolchildren, with their experience of computers and the like, would find Stein's approach rather oldfashioned. Rather, throughout the book Stein links what he is doing to his experiences as a teacher, and it is clear he is aiming at those who are responsible for shaping children's education. He looks at the importance of mathematics in employability, he criticises the common representation of mathematics as a difficult subject, and he looks at reforms in mathematical teaching and where they have led. Any mathematics teachers would do well to read this book, but most of all it would be of benefit to parents, for whom it gives plenty of mathematics based activities to do with their children.