Stella Baruk

Si 7 = 0. Quelles mathématiques pour l'école ? Publication date : May 9, 2004

Stella Baruk is known for her uncompromising criticism of the way mathematics is taught at school. She sees children's frequent aversion to the subject as a clear demonstration of the failure of current methods. Following her earlier book, L'Age du Capitaine, in which she denounced the meaningless mathematical problems that children were burdened with and enjoined to solve, she now addresses the difficulties encountered by the new generation of “the captain's children”.
She has reproduced pages from the exercise books of primary school pupils, with a commentary underlining the confusion created by “modern maths” in the minds of children who are not yet familiar with mathematics. Her message is clear: the fault lies not in modern maths, but in the fact that the cart has been put before the horse. Modern maths was created to generalise operations and structures that recur in every aspect of mathematics, and modern maths cannot be correctly understood without the full mastery of those operations and structures. Yet, the teaching of mathematics has been turned on its head, with the abstract being taught before the concrete and the general before the specific - with the result that empty formalism is all that is being passed on.
Baruk's very precise analyses, illustrated with specific examples, will help parents understand their children's mistakes and difficulties, so that they can help them overcome them.

Stella Baruk is a mathematics teacher and pedagogical researcher.