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Summer Reading: Overcoming Fear and Loathing in Math

Teachers, parents, and researchers will probably be interested in a new book that focuses on why so many students seem to dislike math and what can be done about it. At the very least, I give it points for its catchy title.

What's Math Got to Do With It? Helping Children Learn to Love Their Favorite Subject—and Why It's Important for America, is the work of Jo Boaler, a professor of math education at the University of Sussex, in England.

Boaler has spent years studying middle and high school students and the impact of different teaching methods. I interviewed her a while ago for a story I did on efforts to incorporate better math lessons into career-and-technical education (formerly voc-ed) classes.

In her book, published by Viking, she offers classroom approaches and strategies for parents that she believes can boost students' math skills and reduce their fear of that subject.

She also looks at testing policies she says can improve learning in math, and how girls are discouraged from taking math and science seriously. (Chapter Title: "Paying the Price for Sugar and Spice: How Girls and Women Are Kept Out of Math and Science.") Another chapter examines the effect of American schools' grouping students by ability.

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