“I love math!” – Igniting a Passion for Mathematics without Getting Burned in the Process

I awoke this morning to the email subject line: I love math!  The email was sent by a former AP Calculus student presently attending UC Berkeley.  Her words were encouraging and welcomed.  Additionally, the similarity between her professor, and his plight, and my experience last academic year has me ruminating on all things educational again; hence, this blog post.

The professor’s plight is worth reading as he appears to be an excellent mathematics lecturer who cares tremendously for his students at Berkeley.  Like me, he rejects calls for doing things as they’ve always been done if how they’ve always been done is not working.  Also, like me, he has suffered emotionally from the stress of staying true to his calling and beliefs while being castigated for not teaching like everyone else.

I hope the UC Berkeley administration steps in to support this outstanding lecturer.

It will be a travesty if they do not.


Hi Mr. Math Teacher, hope you are having a great school year!

Just wanted to let you know that I am loving my Calculus class this semester (it’s my favorite class!) and to thank you for providing me with such a strong foundation.  My professor reminds me of you (to some extent) because he is so so passionate about our learning and consistently reminds us that learning is more important than grade performance (which I remember you often talking about too).

My professor was recently fired because of department issues and his unusual, eccentric teaching style and abnormally high student ratings, and has written a response that you may find interesting:


He also wrote another article regarding strikes and education in 2013 (which you may have seen before – I think it went viral):


I guess I am writing this and sending you these articles because he really does remind me of you.  The two of you are the best teachers I’ve had thus far in school, and are why I love math and especially why I value my education so much. Thank you for everything!


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Reimagining the U.S. High School: An Open Letter to Laurene Powell Jobs

Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Dear Mrs. Laurene Powell Jobs:

I commend you for initiating a national challenge to transform the comprehensive high school into a Super School and putting $50 million on the stump for experts, parents, practitioners, and academics to compete for in creating better high schools than exist now. Reinventing the high school should generate an enormous range of suggestions for your expert panel to consider after the national round of open meetings end in November. What you are launching is worthwhile especially if it were to spark a national conversation about the goals of tax-supported public schools in a democracy where the economy has shifted from industrial-based to an information-driven one. Whether that conversation (and debate, I hope) will occur depends greatly, I believe, on you and your associates knowing about how high schools have, indeed, changed over the past century and, of equal importance, the checkered history of efforts to…

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Research? We don’t need no stinking research!

Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher:

Republishing given the recent revelations regarding the questionable validity of psychology research, and the similar challenges facing its distant cousin, education research, which this prior post addresses.

Originally posted on Reflections of a Second-career Math Teacher:

Posting my comments to Larry Cuban in response to his post titled “Evidence: The Case of the Common Core Standards.”  Larry shines a spotlight on the lack of research behind the widespread adoption of Common Core.  I agree with his assessment, and offer additional perspective, in my comments below.


As someone now aboard the Common Core train, I believe the CCSS effort embodies the “bandwagon effect” at a national scale. In many ways, it parallels NCLB as a cause that at the sound bite level sounds right and just, but at the classroom, school, and district level results in distortions of staggering proportion. Sadly, such fallacies hypnotize education policymakers into institutionalizing illogic, which takes decades to reverse.

For what its worth, I find the use of “research-based” in education as more of a code word intended to signal the efficacy of a new policy, process, program, and etcetera…

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