This compilation of papers starts its introduction with two provocative sentences:
Creativity and giftedness are underrepresented topics in mathematics education research. At the same time, mathematics is a rare context in psychological and educational research focused on creativity and giftedness.
Both are, after a moment’s thought, true statements. While the present volume goes a long way toward filling those gaps, the reader cannot help but wonder why the gaps are there in the first place. One reason might be the notion, one which occasionally rises in the education community, that “creativity” is more important than “correctness” in mathematics. On reading the assertion that it’s vitally important for young children to be able to look at math problems from a variety of perspectives–well, who can argue with that? However, there often comes a point when one wishes that the authors would cut through the edubabble and say a few words in favor of correct answers.
On the other hand, one person’s edubabble may well be someone else’s insightful commentary. And there are certainly a number of provocative ideas in the essays contained in this volume. Part III, which addresses some of the classroom and teacher training implications of the subject at hand, is particularly interesting, and addresses an important point: In the challenge of helping gifted mathematics students to succeed, where are the teachers for these kids coming from? The good suggestions are here, but it takes some digging to find them.
Mark Bollman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate professor of mathematics and chair of the department of mathematics and computer science at Albion College in Michigan. His mathematical interests include number theory, probability, and geometry. His claim to be the only Project NExT fellow (Forest dot, 2002) who has taught both English composition and organic chemistry to college students has not, to his knowledge, been successfully contradicted. If it ever is, he is sure that his experience teaching introductory geology will break the deadlock.