Rachel Steinig and Rodi Steinig

Aug 26, 2021

Math Renaissance

Growing Math Circles, Changing Classrooms, and Creating Sustainable Math Education

Natural Math 2018

Math Renaissance: Growing Math Circles, Changing Classrooms, and Creating Sustainable Math Education (Natural Math, 2018) couples two educational memoirs: Student Rachel Steinig brings her experience from diverse schooling models, surveys of teachers and fellow students, and selections of peer-reviewed scholarship to an examination of math instruction in the United States. Her chapters seek to locate root causes, transcend conventional advice, and inspire readers to imagine radical alternatives. Teacher Rodi Steinig invites readers into the role of leading math circles with detailed play-by-plays from her own experience. These chapters evince the importance (and interplay) in this role of background knowledge, preparation, compassion, and improvisation—and, perhaps most saliently for beginning teachers, of resisting the urge to rescue.

Taken together, the book critiques the existing systems that provide children's math education and drills down on an alternative model whose popularity continues to grow. Among my favorite parts of the book were Rodi's self-reflective thought bubbles on her performance facilitating math circles and Rachel's chapter on math instruction from a human rights perspective. The book is intended for teachers and parents of school-age children, though i think middle and high school students and even casual readers would find value in this forthright, thorough, and readable work. It was an absolute delight to discuss the book with both its authors!

Suggested Companion Works:

Rochelle Gutiérrez, Rehumanizing Mathematics: A Vision for the Future

Francis Su, Mathematics for Human Flourishing

Donald Finkel, Teaching with Your Mouth Shut

Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan, Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free

Dave Auckly, Bob Klein, Amanda Serenevy, Tatiana Shubin, Inspiring Mathematics: Lessons from the Navajo Nation Math Circles

Rodi Steinig is an educator, author, and teacher trainer who has educated K-12 students in an inquiry-based approach for over twenty years. She founded the Math Renaissance Math Circle in 2011 hoping to awaken children’s inner mathematicians, to shepherd the unfolding of their abstract reasoning, and to disabuse them of the notion that math is the study of memorizing a bunch of facts and algorithms.

Rachel recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Political Science. She is currently a Border Rights Project Fellow at the nonprofit Al Otro Lado, providing legal services to asylum-seekers at the border in Tijuana.

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Cory Brunson is an Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data.

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