If Math Wrote Letters


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“Explanation is work for second-rate minds,” said the monster.

You want to drive me into a fit of blood-boiling rage? Here are some options:

  • Burn down a used bookstore.
  • Sponsor legislation banning the use of peanut butter in desserts.
  • Offhandedly mention that you think baby chimpanzees aren’t that cute.


  • Or, if you want to take the easy route, just bust out this quote from the great mathematician G.H. Hardy:


The blood…

The boiling…

Oh, the boiling of the blood…


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An Open Letter to Benedict Carey

Or, a Dispatch from the Trenches of the “Math Wars”

Dear Benedict Carey,

I very much enjoyed your book How We Learn. It blends the vast and varied harvest of research on learning into something light, flavorful, and nutritious. A psych-berry smoothie, if you will. It’s a lovely summer read for a math teacher like me.


But I’m also a blogger—which is to say, a cave-dwelling troll, forever grumping and griping. And so I’d like to dive into your chapter on practice (“Being Mixed Up: Interleaving as an Aid to Comprehension”). In it, you purport to remain impartial in “the math wars,” but it’s my view that you come down distinctly on one side.

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