Jo Boaler, Hypocrite?

Jo Boaler, the Nomellini-Olivier Professor of Education at Stanford University, was one of the main culprits behind the new California Mathematics Framework. (See here for Stanford mathematician, Brian Conrad‘s detailed criticism of the CMF). As part of the fight over the CMF, Boaler also had a run-in with Berkeley computer scientist, Jelani Nelson, and see also here and here. Boaler and her fellow clowns won, of course, which means, amongst other things, that high school algebra is now screwed up for millions of Californian public school kids. But, as Jelani Nelson has just reminded us, private schools are freer to do their own thing:

God knows the details. People have been needling Boaler on Twitter, and so far she has declined to respond. Boaler is never slow to play the victim, however. We doubt that it’ll be long before she plays it again.

9 Replies to “Jo Boaler, Hypocrite?”

    1. Don’t be sloppy.

      My only evidence that Boaler is a hypocrite is Nelson’s claim, which is not substantiated. And, even if she is a bigot, and I have no evidence of that, it is irrelevant to the question mark.

      Obviously I cannot stand Boaler, but Boaler’s awfulness does not excuse casual and careless accusations.

  1. In my country she has promoted the idea of using open-ended problems in classrooms which usually has more than 35 students. In such contexts, it was hard enough to teach students all the necessary concepts and operations to solve simple closed-ended problems. Those that are In PISA tests. The results of those reforms are always a disaster. If never there is not enough time to explicitly and well teach the most basic inside schools, how on earth are teachers going to cope with fancy and time consuming strategies?

    1. A recent study by G. Masters (2023) “Building a world-class learning system” compares five jurisdictions, that have done well in PISA: British Columbia, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong and South Korea.

      I read this report (192pp + references) with three questions in mind. What are the characteristics of these five systems? (This is the main point of the report.) How do they compare with Australia? What can I learn for my school?

      It seemed to me that, broadly speaking, all five systems are heading in the same direction. Australia is also on the same track.

      Only British Columbia was mentioned as having an interest in the use of open-ended questions (p. 72). This was not in connection with mathematics in particular.

    2. Let me offer a comment on open-ended questions. Proponents of the use of open-ended questions are probably not suggesting that they play a dominant role in teaching mathematics. But there may be some space for them in mathematics. They are certainly possible in other disciplines (art, history, English, politics).

      Here is an example that I once used.

      During the gold rush in the 19th century, many Chinese people came to Bendigo seeking gold. As they were not permitted to land in Melbourne, they were forced to land in Robe in South Australia and walk to Bendigo. The distance from Robe to Bendigo is about 450 km. Estimate how long it might take a group of people to walk this distance. Give your reasons and show your working.

        1. I was just giving an example of how I have used open-ended questions in teaching students about mathematics. They are not a panacea to fix the ills of mathematics education.

  2. In my country she has promoted the idea of using open-ended problems in classrooms which usually has more than 35 students. In such contexts, it was hard enough to teach students all the necessary concepts and operations to solve simple closed-ended problems. Those that are In PISA tests. The results of those reforms are always a disaster. If never there is not enough time to explicitly teach well the most basic inside schools, how on earth are teachers going to cope with fancy and time consuming strategies?

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