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Measurementby Paul Lockhart
Synopses & Reviews
For seven years, Paul Lockhart's A Mathematician's Lament enjoyed a samizdat-style popularity in the mathematics underground, before demand prompted its 2009 publication to even wider applause and debate. An impassioned critique of K-12 mathematics education, it outlined how we shortchange students by introducing them to math the wrong way. Here Lockhart offers the positive side of the math education story by showing us how math should be done. Measurement offers a permanent solution to math phobia by introducing us to mathematics as an artful way of thinking and living.
In conversational prose that conveys his passion for the subject, Lockhart makes mathematics accessible without oversimplifying. He makes no more attempt to hide the challenge of mathematics than he does to shield us from its beautiful intensity. Favoring plain English and pictures over jargon and formulas, he succeeds in making complex ideas about the mathematics of shape and motion intuitive and graspable. His elegant discussion of mathematical reasoning and themes in classical geometry offers proof of his conviction that mathematics illuminates art as much as science.
Lockhart leads us into a universe where beautiful designs and patterns float through our minds and do surprising, miraculous things. As we turn our thoughts to symmetry, circles, cylinders, and cones, we begin to see that almost anyone can "do the math" in a way that brings emotional and aesthetic rewards. Measurement is an invitation to summon curiosity, courage, and creativity in order to experience firsthand the playful excitement of mathematical work.
"In A Mathematician's Lament, Lockhart bemoaned the state of mathematics education in America. Taking up where he left off, Lockhart presents math as an art and argues that just as there is no systematic way to create beautiful and meaningful art, there is also no method for producing beautiful and meaningful mathematical arguments. Doing mathematics, according to Lockhart, is to make a discovery (by, say, physical objects like string or rubber bands) and then to explain it in the simplest and most elegant way possible. Using illustrations of various shapes and mathematical formulas, he leads readers through several problems step by step, encouraging them to collaborate with others in working through the problem. Measuring, for example, is relative because it involves comparing the object being measured to another object. Measurement is only one of the many rivers in the 'vast, ever-expanding jungle' of mathematics, which for Lockhart satisfies our need to find patterns as well as our curiosity. 'In my mind's eye, there is a universe where beautiful shapes and patterns float by and do curious and surprising things,' he writes. His playful and ingenious approach not only takes the fear out of math but also elegantly illustrates that universe and the joy he finds in it. 16 line illus. Agent: req (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Lockhart's Mathematician's Lament outlined how we introduce math to students in the wrong way. Measurement explains how math should be done. With plain English and pictures, he makes complex ideas about shape and motion intuitive and graspable, and offers a solution to math phobia by introducing us to math as an artful way of thinking and living.
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2013
About the Author
Paul Lockhart teaches mathematics at Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn, New York.
s School, Brooklyn, NY
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Humanities » Philosophy » General