Embracing Mathematics: On Becoming a Teacher and Changing with Mathematics, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Embracing Mathematics

On Becoming a Teacher and Changing with Mathematics, 1st Edition

By Peter Appelbaum, with David Scott Allen


24 pages

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This alternative textbook for courses on teaching mathematics asks teachers and prospective teachers to reflect on their relationships with mathematics and how these relationships influence their teaching and the experiences of their students. Applicable to all levels of schooling, the book covers basic topics such as planning and assessment, classroom management, and organization of classroom experiences; it also introduces some novel approaches to teaching mathematics, such as psychoanalytic perspectives and post-modern conceptions of curriculum. Traditional methods-of-teaching issues are recast in a new discourse, provoking new ideas for making mathematics education meaningful to teachers as well as their students. Co-authored by a professor and coordinator of mathematics education programs, with illustrative contributions from practicing elementary, middle, and high school mathematics teachers, this book is a unique collaboration across all pre-college grades, making it ideal for teacher discussion groups at any level.

Embracing Mathematics:

  • integrates pedagogy and content exploration in ways that are unique in mathematics education
  • features textboxes with reflection questions and suggested explorations that can be easily utilized as homework for a course or as discussion opportunities for teacher reading groups
  • offers examples of teachers’ action research projects that grew out of their interactions with the main chapters in the book
  • is not narrowly limited to mathematics education but incorporates curriculum studies – an invaluable asset that allows instructors to find more ways to engage students in self-reflexive acts of teaching

Embracing Mathematics is intended as a method text for undergraduate and master’s-level mathematics education courses and more specialized graduate courses on mathematics education, and as a resource for teacher discussion groups.


"Embracing Mathematics…[offers] a theoretical and practical grounding for how teachers might enhance all students’ access to powerful mathematical ideas—irrespective of socioeconomic background, home language, and out-of-school affiliations."--Margaret Anne Walshaw, Educational Studies in Mathematics (2010) 73:99-103

"This book is likely to have a substantial impact on the landscape of pedagogical thinking. The pedagogy is a model for how to be engaged in life, in this sense presenting a personal vision that informs more than how to teach."--David Kirshner, Louisiana State University

"Embracing Mathematics offers mathematics teachers other possibilities for teaching, in practical and very tangible ways. Simultaneously, [it] challenges the current field and provides possibilities for how these ‘different’ ways of considering teaching can work effectively in our current situations."--Sarah Smitherman Pratt, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

"Embracing Mathematics presents a wealth of educational ideas. It provides lenses for seeing classroom practice as open to fascinating changes. Emerging as a powerful collective achievement, it provides a dialogical opening of post-modern trends in critical mathematics education, seen as practice, as research, and as learning for everybody." Ole Skovsmose, Aalborg University, Denmark

"This is a book that helps the reader think about his/her practice. It guides teachers in a quest for teaching methods that will enable students to develop a critical mind, which should be the goal of all mathematics education. But it is also an extraordinarily practical book that along with stimulating ideas provides numerous applications, which are immediately useful in the mathematics classroom."--Corinne Hahn, Advancia-Negocia and European School of Management; President, International Commission for Study and Improvement of Mathematics Teaching

Table of Contents

Preface: How can I (better) embrace mathematics? David Scott Allen

Prologue Peter Appelbaum

Response to Prologue: Be a student of mathematics learners

Chapter 1: Planning and assessment

Response to Chapter 1: Engage yourself in meaningful observation

Action Research 1 Isaiah Manzella, Numbers on Trial

MathWorlds 1: Reverse answer to questions

Chapter 2: A psychoanalytic perspective

Response to Chapter 2: Ask yourself to change

Action Research 2 Karen Cipriano, Flexible interview project

MathWorlds 2: Multiple answers.

Chapter 3: You are a mathematician

Response to Chapter 3: Explore the vastness of mathematics

Action Research 3 Karen Cipriano, Mathematics journals

MathWorlds 3: Reading and writing mathematics

Chapter 4: Critical thinkers thinking critically

Response to Chapter 4: It is critical to think

Action Research 4 Ada Rocchi, Lesson: world population and wealth

MathWorlds 4: Pitching questions at various levels.

Chapter 5: Consuming culture: commodities and cultural resources

Response to Chapter 5: Emphasize the meaning-making of mathematics

Action Research 5 Colleen Murphy, Problem solving through literature

MathWorlds 5: Turning "puzzles" into "problems" or "exercises"

Chapter 6: Metaphors for the classroom space

Response to Chapter 6: Take ownership of your classroom space

Action Research 6 Kristin Iaccio, Linking mathematics to social issues

MathWorlds 6: Same math, different metaphors

Chapter 7: Places where people learn mathematics

Response to Chapter 7: The classroom is always changing

Action Research 7 Petal Sumner, Empowering students who don’t learn

Chapter 8: When students don’t learn

Response to Chapter 8: We are all students

Epilogue: Becoming a teacher and changing with mathematics

Afterword: What will you write in your chapter?


About the Authors

Peter Appelbaum is Associate Professor, Arcadia University, Pennyslvania, where he teaches Mathematics Education, Curriculum Theory, and Cultural Studies, and is Coordinator of Mathematics Education Programs, and serves on the University Undergraduate Academic Programs Committee; University General Education Task Force; University Intercultural Committee. Secondary Education Committee; and Elementary Education Committee. His publications include Popular Culture, Educational Discourse, and Mathematics (SUNY Press, 1995); (Post) Modern Science (Education): Frustrations, propositions, and alternative paths, coedited with John Weaver and Marla Morri (Peter Lang, 2001), Multicultural and Diversity Education (ABC-CLIO, 2002), Children’s Books for Grownup Teachers (LEA/Routledge, in press), and numerous chapters in edited volumes and journal articles.

David Scott Allen teaches 7th, 8th, and sometimes 9th grade math at Pennbrook Middle School in North Wales, Pennsylvania.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Curricula
EDUCATION / Teaching Methods & Materials / Mathematics