Burn Math Class: And Reinvent Mathematics for Yourself by Jason Wilkes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a clever book that serves a brilliant purpose: helping adults and students alike get rid of “bad math tapes” and start anew with mathematics. Is it possible to shift a mental mindset around a subject that has terrified millions? I think so. And if anyone can do it, it’s Jason Wilkes.

His premise is simple: the teaching of math in America is abhorrent—dull, long on memorization, and short on meaning and storytelling. Wilkes doesn’t want to teach us math, he wants to teach us to think by inventing mathematics for ourselves and maybe, just maybe, tying back what we’ve created to the mathematics we see in classic textbooks. He abandons words like “functions” and acronyms like “FOIL” and replaces them with words to which we can relate. For example, The Distributive Law is just a law of “tearing things” and The Pythagorean theorem is simply a formula for shortcut distances.

If a math book can be fun, this one wholly is because Wilkes has a sharp mind, irreverent wit, chatty style and clear passion for his craft.

Burn Math Class is a must-have anti-textbook to add to your child’s library as they embark on learning high school math. And it may be a good one for you too if you’re ready to shed the math anxiety that your ninth-grade teacher inadvertently instilled in you so many years ago. Let’s face it, math solves problems. Big ones. If the only thing standing in our way from using math is fear, that’s silly. Buy this book and let Jason Wilkes charm and educate. It’s not a breezy read; it’s work getting through this one. But it’s worth it if the outcome is a new tool to add to one’s problem-solving toolbox.