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Learning and Teaching Mathematics in The Global Village

Marcel Danesi
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
Mathematics Education in the Digital Era
[Reviewed by
Charles Ashbacher
, on

There is no question that the modern educator must use the technology that has created the global village: the students demand it. Students now expect there to be an online site where they can access homework assignments and pose questions. Beyond this is the potential for the use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Danesi does an excellent job in describing many aspects of the changes taking place in mathematics education.

The opening chapter deals with a historical retrospective of how knowledge was transferred that goes back to societies before there were alphabets. The original form of learning was oral: great epic poems were memorized in detail for retelling around the communal fire.

The first major breakthrough in knowledge transfer was the development of writing and the abstract symbols that allowed information to be codified in abbreviated form. The second great breakthrough was the development of movable type, an invention that allowed literacy to be a mass skill. As Danesi points out, the most recent breakthrough of the global village is in many ways just the latest iteration. This also serves to emphasize that learning and using this new tool is essential.

A broad spectrum of material is covered, my favorite chapter is number four, “Pop Culture in Math Pedagogy.” The appearance of math in everything from comic books to television shows to the movies and video games is covered. One of the most underappreciated facts is how often accurate mathematics is incorporated into the animated prime time show “The Simpson’s.” The wise teacher will use all available tools, mathematics students from elementary school to the highest levels of college will enjoy watching videos as a valid educational tool.

The existence of instructional math videos on YouTube are also mentioned. While a great deal of the content of YouTube is silly and nonsensical, there are some real gems available. If you are looking for ways to introduce a little edutainment into your classes, this book will get you started with both information and directions to follow.

Charles Ashbacher splits his time between consulting with industry in projects involving math and computers, and teaching college classes. In his spare time, he reads about these things and helps his daughter in her lawn care business.

See the table of contents in the publisher's webpage.