An extremely brief summary of what I’ve learned about math anxiety and timed tests over the past few days

There are many studies that find math anxiety impacts how well a kid does in math. This includes performance on timed tests. There are pretty much no studies that attempt to find evidence that timed tests contribute to math anxiety. (See this thread for the full conversation.) There are a handful of studies (two that […]

Three Trivial Curiosities

Nobody knows for sure where the term ‘Indian Summer’ comes from. The word ‘hippocampus’ refers to three different things: the sea-horses that drove Poseidon’s chariot seahorses, the fish the part of the brain that kind of looks a lot like a seahorse The hyphen distinguishes between the mythological creature and the fish. In Agatha Christie’s […]

Straightedge and Compass

John Donne’s A Valediction Forbidding Mourning ends with two lovers compared to the arms of a geometric compass over several stanzas: Our two souls therefore, which are one,     Though I must go, endure not yet  A breach, but an expansion,     Like gold to airy thinness beat.  If they be two, they are two so     As stiff twin […]


Another school year: done. I love the dismantling that happens after the kids leave. For months this place has been made just so, and it takes just moments for the entire accumulation process to be set in reverse. Posters are first in the line of fire, but sooner or later everything is headed either to […]

Don’t ask “does it work?”

From Larry Cuban: Do Core Knowledge Programs Work? As for many school reforms over the past century, answering the “effectiveness” question–does it work?–is no easy task. The first major issue is answering the question of whether Core Knowledge was fully implemented in classrooms. If not completely implemented, then judging outcomes become suspect. Many of the […]

Mathematics that makes itself

Can something be true, just because you say it? One example might be a promise. If you promise somebody that you’ll feed their cats…well, all of the sudden there is a promise there. The act of promising creates a promise. All of the sudden, there it is. It makes itself. Anyway, maybe mathematics can sometimes pull off […]

Two classroom things

#1 Ask anybody: I’m not some sort of god teacher in the classroom. But the other day a teacher complimented me on my classroom management, in particular my ability to hold attention without using my voice. And I was like, yeah! That’s something I do very much on purpose. I forget if I came up with […]

It all is weird to me

My experience of being a Jew is experiencing a lot of things and not having the slightest clue how to make sense of them in the context of history and contemporary life. Like that one time I went to Oklahoma. I was walking a few miles on Shabbat and wearing my yarmulke. A car pulls […]