The Wisdom of Peter Taylor And Its Profound Absence In Math Education

Sunil Singh
4 min readDec 15, 2023

If we are going to be brutally honest, mathematics has rarely been taught that way — and never systemically. It is getting exhausting and boring citing the usual suspects — year after year, decade after decade — but let’s open these bag of stale and sterile blockades to students having a more joyous experience of mathematics.

Constant Testing

Declining PISA scores have been in the news.

Zzzzzzzzz…

Has anyone bothered to even consider that students’ attitude towards being tested is hardly enthusiastic? That students might not care if the answer is bubble A, B, C, or D. The people who care most about test scores care the least about mathematics — and know the least about mathematics. This group contains people like journalists, right-wing educators, and other horribly misinformed/misaligned bureaucrats. Collectively, they couldn’t muster a smirk about what makes mathematics so beautiful. Even if every student from around the world got perfect, how would that improve the future of the world?

It wouldn’t. We would only create more clever vandals(David Orr)

For the people that test scores deserve conversation bandwidth, mathematics is an inert tool of compliance and competition. End of story.

Cult of Pedagogy

Teacher’s College almost killed me. It was so devoid of humanity and replete with academic gobbledygook, that I was second-guessing what the hell I was doing. Teaching is NOT a science. I had one helluva successful teaching career without succumbing to mindless accreditation and over-hyped teaching maneuvers. But here we are in the age of Science…of Math??

It’s a movement alright. A somniferous bowel movement of cultish, whiteish(check out their website) devotion to all things testing and “evidence”. It’s truly the front row of my Teacher’s Education classes. Not too surprisingly, there is ZERO mention of awe, wonder, joy, and beauty of mathematics.

Edu Celebrity Culture/Hustle Culture/Expertise Culture

I don’t have a website. I am so off brand in my social media posts — I post about music, food, sports, etc. Mathematics is a subset of my life. It’s not the be and end all. Sure, I use social media to promote mathematics. But, I also use it to promote listening to new rock bands, travel destinations, recipes, and funny cartoons.

But now everyone wants to become an expert on some slice of mathematics education — every slice except mathematics. That’s because NOBODY can be expert on mathematical content. Me? Maybe I know 0.0001% of the mathematics in the universe. Hopefully less! That’s not really a marketable platform to elbow your way into the edu celebrity circle.

There is no oxygen left to simply talk about mathematics — without any agenda except to do mathematics.

Time for some masterclass observations from Peter Taylor, who also wrote one of the the greatest calculus books ever! Most math books are theory then application. Taylor does application then theory here.

The following are excerpts from his article, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Secondary Mathematics Curriculum Landscape.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of Taylor’s wisdom. I implore math educator that is interested in mathematics to explore his site!

We are in the age of trying to revolutionize mathematics education by — ironically and tragically — but muting the hell out of it.

This is a faux revolution that is less servitude and more self-serving.

Count me 100% out of that one. Count me 100% in with all things Peter Taylor.

--

--