All Things Being Equal: Why Math is the Key to a Better World
The Stats: 304 Pages, published January 2020
Who Should Read It: New and veteran teachers to math and anyone wanting to be inspired and/or rethink their relationship with math!
My Rating (out of 5 ♥): ♥♥♥♥
My Thoughts: All Things Being Equal is part social justice manifesto, part growth mindset companion reader, and part practical guidebook. Author and founder of the Jump Math program, John Mighton, is a self-described late-bloomer in math and has himself grown from math-queasy to a mathemetician in his 30s. Mighton has an approachable tone and brings you along easily into some of the math “traps” students and teachers can fall into. For instance, Mighton is a true believer that anyone can learn math and that it’s often just taught in ways that are inaccessible or relies heavily memorization without the fundamentals (which make the most sense). Mighton spoke to me especially in his beliefs of not creating “low floor, high ceiling” problems, but rather, aiming to get the entire class to succeed. He advocates for this by breaking down math problems into their simplest, easiest to understand forms- something he notes few teachers generally take the time to do, favouring what seems like a more efficient route, but leaving many students behind in the process. Indeed, Mighton convinced me that students who already know the steps won’t be bored in this process either, as they have time to practice and apply, or the opportunity to mentor students along the way. Further, Mighton’s approach also includes myriad reasons why math is imporant. While I didn’t need convincing, his passion for math as a subject in and of itself, and the success with which students can realize within math pedagody in particular, is an admirable one (check it) and further reinforced my belief in strong, inclusive math programs. The book makes the most sense within the context of the Jump Math program, founded by Mighton himself. I recommend this book without reservation for your 2020 reading list, however, to get the most out of it, make sure to carve out time to investigate the Jump Math website, resources, and/or webinars.
Who Should Read It: Teachers, school administrators, educational program designers
My Rating (out of 5 ♥): ♥♥♥.5
My Thoughts:This book was recommended by my library (the Vancouver Public Library), and I admittedly did not expect to be so moved by the Nicole Chung’s story. Chung shares a raw, honest account of her upbringing as a child adopted from South Korea by a family in the Pacific Northwest. She shares candidly about how not knowing her parents or culture; balancing gratitude and connection with her adoptive family with an ever-present sense of wonder and longing of her birth family; stumbling through the institutional racism in the overwhelmingly white community in rural Oregon (“where are YOU from?”); all the while navigating the expected trials of childhood. Chung begins the book by sharing a recent conversation of a well-intentioned friend, herself looking to adopt, and Chung finding herself not able to answer in the simplistic,”Yeah, all adoption is great!”
Chung’s story weaves through difficult realities of meeting and knowing her birth family, while navigating this with her partner and her adoptive parents. While it is anything but cookie-cutter, it’s also surprisingly relateable in how Chung’s story of disappointment, pain, curiosity, and ultimately, love and connection.
Why should educators read this?
I was surprised at how little I realized I knew about adoption, as well as the hidden assumptions I didn’t even realize I was holding onto. Chung has a relatable voice, yet doesn’t sugar-coat anything about her story, and shares insight and truths that tugged at my heart. The trials Chung faced from anyone from her teachers and classmates to hairstylists highlighted to me that adopted children are nearly always reminded they are adopted, which while I’m sure comes with some highlights, also clearly comes with stigmitized, complicating, confusing, and even traumatizing feelings. To understand this as even just one person in a child’s life can be there to listen, undertand, and love.
Who Should Read It: Teachers, anyone in need of a heartwarming yet raw look at the challenges of children’s responses to trauma
My Rating (out of 5 ♥): ♥♥♥♥
My Thoughts:I fully admit that what drew me into this book was the gorgeous cover, spotted on the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island. When I started paging through the book, I was drawn by the playful dialogue of the endearing, brave, mischieveious, and improbable protagonist, Frankie, a nervous and presumably traumatized 6-year-old who seeks to reconcile his mother’s sudden death by sneaking aboard an English cruise ship bound for France. Naturally! Told from Frankie’s innocent yet all-seeing eyes, I found myself smiling at some of Frankie’s adventures (such as scoring buffet cheese and sleeping amongst the pool chair mats), as well as an ache in my heart for some of his more raw reflections (his panic attack tantrums, his heartbreaking lonliness and fear during the cruise ship’s turbulence, and the misunderstanding he frequently encounters with his teacher at school).
I read this book purely for pleasure and an escape; I was surprisingly and melodiously whisked away into the mind of a child. An endearing story and a good reminder to us all about how poignant, powerful, and significant the world is (for better and worse) for children.