Balancing the Equation

I was sent a copy of the book "Balancing the Equation" for the purpose of this review. An affiliate link has also been included.

There has long been a debate in mathematics instruction. Should students be required to develop procedures, skills, memorization and fluency or should conceptual understanding, reasoning and student centered discovery rule the day? Balancing the Equation: A Guide to School Mathematics for Educators and Parents  sets out to settle the debate.

As the title may suggest, this is not an either or argument and the two are certainly not mutually exclusive. Mathematics instruction should strive to find a balance between these two ideas. Not only are conceptual understanding and procedures and skills both valid points of view but they each support one another. Swing the pendulum too far in one direction or the other and, ultimately, students will not gain the level of proficiency needed to demonstrate mastery of math content at their grade level and beyond.

This text is broken into two sections. The first section is focused around the history of math instruction, standards and political the initiatives that come into play. A strong argument is made for the need for a balanced approach to math instruction based on this history as the authors examine what happens when the pendulum swings too dramatically to one side of the "equation".

If you have ever found yourself frustrated by current math instruction, assessment or standards or if you have found yourself engaged in a heated conversation with someone who is passionately against "Common Core" this section of the text is absolutely worth a read. You will be presented with facts and research based ideas which inform the current direction of math instruction. This section of the text is billed as being "for educators" with the caveat that parents would also benefit from the content. I, however, believe that every frustrated, confused or overwhelmed parent would benefit greatly from reading this section of the book. The argument for unified standards and balanced instruction- including not only the "how" of procedural fluency but also the "why" and "when" of conceptual understanding and application- is so clearly and concisely laid out that it would put any mind at ease.

The second section of the text is billed as being "for parents". In this section of the text, parents will learn what they should expect to see in terms of their child's math instruction and what to advocate for if instruction seems to be lacking. This section of the text is also applicable to educators as it is a powerful self-assessment in terms of the instruction you are offering in your own classroom.

Overall, the clear, concise, research based, practical nature of this text make it a worthwhile read for parents and educators alike. I would highly recommend Balancing the Equation as an addition to your summer reading list!

The text is available on Amazon.com if you are interested in reading more:
Balancing the Equation: A Guide to School Mathematics for Educators and Parents (Contexts for Effective Student Learning in the Common Core)

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