How I Wish I'd Taught Maths

How I Wish I'd Taught Maths

Lessons Learned From Research, Conversations with Experts, and 12 Years of Mistakes

Craig Barton

Brought to an American audience for the first time, How I Wish I’d Taught Maths is the story of an experienced and successful math teacher’s journey into the world of research, and how it has entirely transformed his classroom.


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'I genuinely believe I have never taught mathematics better, and my students have never learned more. I just wish I had known all of this twelve years ago...'

When you speak to the likes of Dylan Wiliam, Doug Lemov, Daisy Christodoulou, Kris Boulton and the Bjorks, you are bound to learn a thing or two. But when he started his Mr. Barton Maths Podcast, Craig Barton wasn’t expecting to have his whole outlook on teaching and learning turned upside down. Brought to an American audience for the first time, How I Wish I’d Taught Maths is the story of an experienced and successful math teacher’s journey into the world of research, and how it has entirely transformed his classroom.

Along the way we meet practical, easy-to-implement strategies including Supercharged Worked Examples, Silent Teacher, SSDD problems, low-stakes quizzes, diagnostic questions, Purposeful Practice, self-explanations, harnessing the power of the hypercorrection effect, how to (and how not to) teach problem-solving and much more. No matter your experience, teaching style or favorite number, every math teacher will find something to think about in this book.

Product Code: BPP180017
ISBN: 9781943920587 | 01/07/19
Publisher: LSI


How I Wish I’d Taught Maths is an extraordinary and important book. Part guide to research, part memoir, part survival handbook, it’s a wonderfully accessible guide to the latest research on teaching mathematics, presented in a disarmingly honest and readable way. I know of no other book that presents as much usable research evidence on the dos and don’ts of mathematics teaching in such a clear and practical way. No matter how long you have been doing it, if you teach mathematics – from primary school to university – this book is for you.

– Dylan Wiliam, Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment, UCL

How I Wish I’d Taught Maths  is a rare and wonderful book, one that could only have been written by someone with Craig’s devotion to teaching and willingness to become immersed in the research literature on how people learn. In clear, concrete, and compelling terms, Craig illustrates evidence-based ways to upgrade mathematics instruction, ways that are often unintuitive and/or at odds with prevailing educational practices. It makes us wish that young people the world   over might have the good fortune to find themselves in classes that incorporate Craig’s insights. In fact, whereas Craig writes, ‘I’ll be honest - this book has been created for maths teachers’, we think that Craig’s ‘lessons learned’ can, with some creativity, enhance any teaching.

– Robert A. Bjork and Elizabeth L. Bjork, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles

It’s rare that we change our habits and beliefs once they are established – cognitive bias is strong in us. And that is what makes this book so exceptional. Craig describes not only what he’s learned from a methodical study of cognitive science but how he’s changed over time despite his initial success. There’s a joyful relentlessness to Craig’s study of teaching methods. He starts out telling us he wants to ‘know every detail’, and what makes   the book so exceptional is just that – the way the story of how something he learned about teaching played out in a specific problem or lesson, was refined and improved. It’s an incredibly useful book for maths teachers especially, but really for anyone who teaches and cares about getting it right.

– Doug Lemov, former teacher and author of Teach like a Champion

This is a really thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion of a series of important and practical questions about the best way to teach. 

– Daisy Christodoulou, author of Seven Myths about Education and Director of Education at No More Marking

This book has the potential to have a huge impact on the way maths   is taught. It is so refreshing to see a maths teacher honestly critiquing their own practice and suggesting alternative approaches based on sound research and analysis. Craig’s warm and relatable style of writing is a pleasure to read. His book is brought to life by hilarious anecdotes and humble reflections. Craig summarises the key points   of the relevant research succinctly and his advice to teachers is perfectly pitched and instantly transferable to any maths classroom. For the sake of our current and future students, I certainly hope that this book becomes essential reading for maths teachers.

– Jo Morgan, maths teacher and creator of 

Teaching is on the cusp of a new era, bringing it out from the dark ages where ‘don’t smile before Christmas’ and ‘because we’ve always done it that way’ is replaced with evidence-backed approaches based on insights from research into cognitive science and psychology. In a world where the highest-impacting teaching approaches are often counter-intuitive, experience alone cannot be relied upon; we need these research-informed insights in order to improve as practitioners.

History will look back on How I Wish I’d Taught Maths as a seminal book leading mainstream teachers into this new world. And who else would   you want to narrate us into the unknown than Craig Barton, the leading maths educator in the UK? A role model for excellence in professional development, Craig’s enthusiasm, intellect and critical skills navigate readers through vitally important and complex concepts with ease.

Pulling on contemporary research from hundreds of papers and books, How I Wish I’d Taught Maths concisely summarises all that we know about high-impact teaching and gives specific examples of what it looks like in the classroom. This book helps you realise just how much you didn’t know about teaching, and furthermore, how much we still have to learn as a profession. A must-read for experienced or newly qualified teachers alike. This book will quickly become a classic.

– William Emeny, Teacher, Researcher, Author of Great Maths Teaching Ideas, Creator of Numeracy Ninjas

How I Wish I’d Taught Maths is an honest and insightful reflection of Craig’s years as a maths teacher. Through experience, podcasting others and reading broadly, Craig carefully considers every assumption he used  to make when teaching maths – assumptions we all make or made. In  each chapter he forensically analyses a theme from Explicit Instruction    to, my favourite, Choice of Examples, expounding his old approach and backing up his new approach with rich examples and scholarly references.

Written in the way he speaks – upbeat, humble and littered with ‘ flippin’ ‘ecks’ – Craig brings together so many aspects of maths teaching and so many shared assumptions that there’s something   in here for anyone involved in maths education, including teacher trainers, early career teachers and those with many years at the chalkface. Having read How I Wish I’d Taught Maths I’ll now be a considerably stronger practitioner. No doubt this will become the defining book on maths pedagogy for generations of maths teachers.

– Bruno Reddy, Former Head of Maths at King Solomon Academy and creator of Times Tables Rockstars

This is one of the most useful books on maths instruction that I have read. Craig’s humility and honesty about his previous reasoning, and responses to received wisdom (and his own biases), invites the reader to examine their own preconceptions and blind spots. The volume of research behind his conclusions – and the down-to-earth summaries of its implications – make it accessible for anyone interested in maths teaching. 

His stories ring horribly true, encapsulating predictable errors made early (and late!) in a maths teacher’s career. I wish this book had existed when I trained; I might have avoided making so many mistakes, and for so long!

The conversational style gives it the feel of a discussion with a trusted and inspiring maths mentor or university tutor, making you feel Craig’s expectations of us, as teachers, are as high as those he has for his students!

I’ve made it a ‘must-read’ for anyone who wants to join our   department. In addition to being accessible, it acts as a handy    reference for discussions, giving a common language for maths teachers to discuss their practice. It is wonderful to have a go-to resource  allowing maths teachers, and those who support them, to examine  where their practice can be refined or, in some cases, altered.

As the debate about ‘teacher standards’ gathers pace, this book is a timely contribution in answer to the question, ‘What should we expect all teachers, as professionals, to know about the craft of teaching maths to children?’. That said, there is a wealth of information and reflection in here that would be valuable for teachers across subjects and phases.    I would not be surprised if this became compulsory reading for a range of PGCE courses and teacher inductions. Craig’s conclusions about   how to help pupils learn interrogates the most fundamental aspects of how we think about teaching, regardless of curriculum area.

– Dani Quinn, Head of Maths at Michaela Community School 

Evidence-fuelled, down-to-earth, and hugely practical. The book we maths teachers have all been waiting for.

– Peps Mccrea, Associate Dean at the Institute for Teaching 

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