Most helpful critical review
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A Note of Dissent
on 15 August 2009
After so much praise for this book, I must enter a note of dissent. I have given it two stars for its knowledge of mathematics and terminology. I think, though, that its recommendations for teaching are at the heart of many of the problems currently encountered in primary mathematics. In particular, it does too little to help teachers establish the basic number skills on which more advanced calculations depend, and its outright refusal even to explain the basis of long division, suggesting it should be left entirely to calculators, is a serious shortcoming - whether or not the author recommends the technique, it is inexcusable for teachers not even to know about it. Similarly, while the author says that, to be able to "know thoroughly and can recall instantly" multiplication tables up to 10x10 (p87) he does not give teachers guidance on how to achieve this.
The children I teach have problems with the elements of mathematics that this book either mentions in passing or does not teach at all. All of the other children and adults I've helped with mathematics over the past thirty years have had the same problem. I recommend this book for its explanations of terminology and of current teaching practices - with the proviso that current teaching practices are a major part of our problems.
Independent Educational Consultant and former Ofsted lead inspector.