Book Review from Edmund Harriss


Reviews are coming in for Math on the Move: Engaging Students in Whole Body Learning! Edmund Harriss is one of the of the folks who kindly agreed to read and review the book. He was only expected to write a short blurb but, in his words, “I ended up making a longer review as I had quite a bit to say…”  Thank you Edmund!

More than anything else, Math on the Move seems to come from a journey. Malke took her skills as an Artist in Education, noticed a deep connection to mathematics and pursued it … developing her own mathematical knowledge and skills in the process, and finding links deep into the subject in delightful and surprising ways. In the book she now serves as a skilled guide helping others to follow her path.

As a mathematician whose work crosses into art it is always inspiring and delightful when I encounter work that is both genuine mathematics and genuine art; each side supporting and enriching the other. Malke’s work fits this pattern wonderfully. The movement activities and dance described naturally link to the notions of transformation geometry and the subtle questions of sameness and difference that are explored. In return the mathematical language developed provides questions and ideas for aesthetic exploration.

Yet the book is far from being proscriptive, the guide is far more about how to develop these ideas and the notion of mathematical exploration in the reader, than it is about any specific activities (although it has plenty of specific practical advice as well). With many mathematical standards such as the Common Core and the Oklahoma state standards promoting the importance of understanding and using mathematical language, this book provides teachers with an excellent case study, guide and meditation on how best to achieve that.

Finally it is worth noting that the activities described in this book step outside of the traditional way we process mathematics. We primarily think about it in terms of language (algebra) occasionally dropping into the visual (geometry). Yet here the body is introduced explicitly as a method of learning. This is a fantastic way of exploring space and motion as we are doing it physically the whole time. Enabling people to find the links between that physical understanding and the mathematical abstractions is a wonderful way to make mathematics open up.

Overall this is a wonderful book on the power and importance of mathematical thinking to explore all sorts of surprising topics, and conversely the importance of physical movement and dance to explore mathematics.

~Edmund Harriss, Math Artist, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Arkansas, and co-author of Patterns of the Universe: A Coloring Adventure in Math and Beauty

Malke Rosenfeld delights in creating rich environments in which children and their adults can explore, make, play, and talk math based on their own questions and inclinations. Her upcoming book, Math on the Move: Engaging Students in Whole Body Learning, will be published by Heinemann in October 2016.


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