MIND OVER MATH by Stanley & Joseph Warren Kogelman


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Kogelman and Warren are mathematicians whose approach to math anxiety is almost purely psychological. They conduct a math clinic at Wesleyan University--which Sheila Tobias, also out to help you overcome math trauma (below), helped establish. While Tobias adds a fair amount of math teaching to her treatise, the profs are more interested in group therapy and getting you over the hurdles. Their book describes how the clinic operates--and what it accomplishes--with frequent quotes from participants: ""When the bank statement comes, I have this terrible sinking feeling."" They also want to lay to rest myths about the so-called mathematical mind and destructive statements (like ""It's obvious. . ."") that students all too often are told. After a couple of rap sessions, they introduce some math problems, not so much for individuals to solve as to elucidate what went on in their minds as they listened. From there they provide guidelines for problem-solving based on generally accepted learning principles: relax, take a break, realize that you are in charge, practice a little every day, and so on. Only in the last part of the book do the authors do any formal teaching which they describe as designed to ""give you a feeling for. . . ."" Their frequent invoking of intuition, while true of how mathematicians think, may, however, leave their fledgling students nonplused. On the whole the Tobias book and this one are compatible and confront the issues in similar ways. Tobias presents more general background and does more math teaching, albeit in her own idiosyncratic way. The mathematicians provide a detailed picture of how a math workshop functions, so that their book may be instructive for future math therapists as well as for the individual in need.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1978
Publisher: Dial