Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn: A Look at Math Education from the Inside

Being a sometimes useful and always irreverent compendium of letters that examine math education in our public schools, addressed to anyone with the requisite curiosity to read them. 

“Few refuges exist from the multicolored tomes posing as math textbooks. No one is safe from this modern day invasion of the body snatchers. And just like in the movie, those with the power to do something have already been taken over by the seed pods of education school dogma.”

So writes Barry Garelick, using the name John Dewey in a set of letters that chronicles his journey through ed school as he pursues a second career as math teacher after retirement. A few years later, he wrote a second set of letters using the name Huck Finn, this time describing his experiences as a student teacher and then a substitute teacher. As Huck Finn he grapples with the “ideological, political and cultural divide in math education”. In both collections, John Dewey and Huck Finn learn more than they bargained for in ways that are both humorous and, ultimately, very human. 

The letters from John Dewey originally appeared in the blog Edspresso. The letters from Huck Finn (with the exception of Chapter 10) originally appeared in the blog Out in Left Field, also in slightly different form. The letters achieved a following of readers who expressed their agreements and disagreements quite candidly in comments on the respective blogs. It became evident to many that the great divide in math education is quite real.

Amazon page for Dewey/Finn:   

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