Penn State

Jane M. Wilburne - associate professor of mathematics education, Penn State Harrisburg

Book Title: The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas From the World's Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom

Author: James Stigler and James Hiebert

Book Description:

This book has been instrumental in promoting why mathematics needs to be taught with an emphasis on process, reasoning, and making mathematical connections. I have used this book in many of my graduate mathematics education courses to help mathematics teachers see how teaching is a cultural activity. The book compares the methods of teaching mathematics in 231 eighth grade math classrooms in Germany, Japan, and the U.S. What is particularly shocking is learning how the American teachers from the video study emphasize terms and procedures, fail to engage students in mathematical reasoning and proof, and teach mathematics as a set of tedious skills. In my courses, mathematics teachers conduct a critical classroom analysis and look for practices in their classrooms that relate to the description of the typical eighth grade classroom. They are encouraged to describe these practices and look for ways to teach mathematics with a student-centered focus. They begin to see how they need to emphasize reasoning and proof at all grade levels and encourage students to make mathematical connections through inquiry-based activities.

The Teaching Gap has inspired me to promote effective teaching of mathematics in every mathematics classroom. As a mathematics education professor, I encourage elementary and secondary pre-service teachers to read The Teaching Gap and to see that change in teaching mathematics begins with them.


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