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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Mathalicious: 'Out with negative numbers, in with positive feelings'


Numbers, multiplication and "right" answers are obsolete, 22nd-century-skills guru Paul Banksley tells Rick Hess. They're "not innovative, inclusive, learner-centric, future-driven, or equitable.”


The math of the future will be "mathalicious," says Banksley. "It’s time for fewer fractions and a lot more fun. Out with division, in with diversity. Out with negative numbers, in with positive feelings.”


Future math will interrogate the equal sign, which validates "equality" and sameness rather than "equity" and diversity, Banksley says. Teachers will transition students "to fifth-generation skills in co-created, dynamic learning environments.”


“The possibilities are endless. Instead of 19th-century problem sets, a teacher might ask how many trees a student would need to plant in order to combat intolerance.”
“Or, how many servings of spaghetti must be thrown on the Mona Lisa to halt climate change.”

Redesigning the equal sign, which will the "equity sign," is the first step, he says. In 22nd-century math, "we’ll be focusing less on whether an equation is ‘correct’ and more on whether it’s just, diverse, equitable, inclusive, and a source of joy."


I feel obliged to say that math visionary Paul Banksley does not exist. It's a parody.


Teacher Ryan Hooper warns of a new fad in math education, or a new version of the old construct-your-own learning fad. Building Thinking Classrooms" isn't backed by research, he writes. It doesn't fit with what we know about how students learn. But it's catching on.


By contrast, "direct instruction is a method in which teachers explicitly and systematically instruct students through tasks such as step-by-step procedures, modeling, teacher-guided practice, emphasizing foundational skills and fluency, and deliberately crafted lessons." There's lots of evidence it improves math understanding, writes Hooper. But critics say it's teacher-centric and forces passive students to memorize math facts. "These myths are largely untrue," he writes, but they've discouraged teachers from learning about what actually works.

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13 Comments


Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Apr 21

The US really needs a parent-controlled competitive market in education services.

Please read Diane Ravitch, Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms. The arrogance of school policy planners, who prescribe for millions of other people's children, will make your skin crawl.

The $800 billion per year US K-12 credential industry is the second-largest (after China) command economy left on Earth.

Socialism is an addictive, infantile, self-congratulatory power fantasy: "What a wonderful World it would be if I ran it!"

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bkwormtoo
Apr 13

Here's Hess' article about his interview with Banksley, Talking 22nd Century Skills with @realpbanksley (Opinion) (edweek.org) . As best I can tell, to the degree the guy's silliness can be taken seriously, he really is serious, not a parody. My wish for such people is that they live in homes and drive cars designed by people whose math skills were formed by their loony ideas and find their lives dependent on medical equipment designed by similarly trained engineers.

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Joanne Jacobs
Joanne Jacobs
Apr 15
Replying to

Rick Hess made up "Paul Banksley" to satirize the ideas being promoted by education gurus.

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Richard Rider
Richard Rider
Apr 12

Surely this is from a parody website. Viewed in that context, it IS rather funny!

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Joanne Jacobs
Joanne Jacobs
Apr 15
Replying to

Yes, Rick Hess made up "Paul Banksley" to make fun of ed gurus.

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m_t_anderson
Apr 12

Not just positive, but positively mathalicious!  "It’s time for fewer fractions and a lot more fun.." Now there's a half-assed idea we can all get behind.

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Darren Miller
Darren Miller
Apr 12

Correct answers are "not innovative, inclusive, learner-centric, future-driven, or equitable.”

Only correct opinions are? People who think like this are idiots, kept safe from the results of their opinions by degrees, tenure, and some money.


You can't just throw versions of the word "equity" around and consider that sufficient justification.

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Darren Miller
Darren Miller
Apr 12
Replying to

OK, just saw it's a parody. The bad news is that it's totally believable--and I'm a bit sensitive to uses of the word "equity" after our staff meeting yesterday, in which we were told our district will now allow teenagers to walk around in tube tops, halters, and half-shirts, and to wear hoodies in class, all in the name of equity.

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