Oh how did I hate my math(s) books, let me count the ways…

Last week I observed a conversation regarding math(s) books and how terrible the ones the participants used were. The books being discussed were either “FLOWCHART FLOWCHART FLOWCHART” or “Do this problem, no explanation given” level. Having had a hard time with my Saxon math(s) and Algebra books in homeschool (6th grade until I was a sophomore, so Math 7/6 until Algebra 2), I jumped right in with the following list. Now, do not get me wrong, I enjoyed doing mathematics and somewhat still do, and I certainly learned most of what was being taught, but it was a pain learning everything. 😛

Why my Math(s) books were bad

  1. Badly explain mathematical concept
  2. Give problems based on badly explained concept
  3. Give problems that are supposedly related to and are based on badly explained concept but were never mentioned, exampled, or explained
  5. Force the use of long, verbose, and complex formatting instead of short, compact, and meaningful formatting
  6. Write an entire mathematical concept and lesson into a single homework problem, not repeat that concept again in that lesson or in the next few, then a few months later refer back to it multiple times in multiple lessons
  7. Have an index that does not list many of the mathematical concepts, including #6 (alternatively, “What is an index?”)
  8. Have a glossary that contains definitions of only the most basic terms, most or all of which you already understand (alternatively, “What is a glossary?”)
  9. Use 3.14 for pi in homework, but the symbol for pi (π) in tests
  10. “Take test 10 after lesson 55, covers material up to lesson 50”
  11. Homework problems that were nearly impossible to solve at times, even with a solutions manual
  12. Solutions manual: “We display all the steps the first few times, then gradually cut out or merge certain steps as the student masters the concept.”

    Problem #1: Shows all six steps
    Problem #2: Show all but two of the steps
    Problem #3: Question –> Answer

  13. Mathematical proofs that count not be understood at all (see #1-3)
  14. Repeat for four years because of different grade level books that were all in the same series

This list might be enough for you to downright cringe already, but let me “seal the deal” but providing the following example from one of the books, which would be point 5 in the above list.

Why I hate my math book - example

This is what multiple of my books called a Unit Multiplier problem. The directions said to convert 4 cubic Miles to cubic Kilometers. This was the final answer. I know this answer can be written in cubic groups, and ideally it should be, but the book always wanted my answers written out in this format. This answer is so long that when I solved it, I had to turn my wide-ruled notebook long ways to write it. This was not the only problem that had to be written this way. On Unit Multiplier problems that deal with time, the book wanted the conversion from seconds to hours written out completely (60×60 instead of 3600), while I was allowed to go straight from feet to miles (instead of going from feet to yards to miles) on length-related problems.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is why I hated my Saxon math(s) books. Have a similar book nightmare or a fairytale story of your own? Tell it in the comments below! 😀



2 thoughts on “Oh how did I hate my math(s) books, let me count the ways…

  1. On the other hand, I had a very GOOD math experience! I took Math-U-See all the way through Algebra II, and it served me well – simple, good explanations, excellent answer key with very few errors, an accompanying video, and physical building blocks to demonstrate the concepts.
    It also had plenty of practice problems and extra pages if you needed them, honors pages, and only 30 lessons (6 pages in each lesson, but you don’t have to do all 6 if you get the concept)
    Sorry to hear you had a bad time! Hopefully it’s better now in college?

    -The [Guy]

    1. I took College Algebra last semester (summer), and it was a much better experience than those 5 years of the same book series, despite it being summer semester and only 9 weeks instead of 15. Not sure exactly what it was that made it better, but it was. 😀

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