Readings In Mathematics

Purpose: To promote conceptual mathematics and how it helps us understand everyday life. To promote reading across the curriculum.

Reformatted: January 2010

Beyond Numeracy - a dictionary of various topics in mathematics including such things as: pi, humor, elections, topology, etc Written at roughly a high school reading level
Mathematician Reads the Newspaper - focuses on how mathematics expands our awareness of the news; includes the likes of: the mathematics of democracy, understanding risk, etc. See also the related web site: The ABC News series: Who's Counting
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences - reviews the problems of mathematical illiteracy, well written, easy to read
A Mathematical Mosaic by Ravi Vakil - challenges to math students to think about math and numbers differently
  Aha Gotcha by Martin Garder - this has very easy to read and has cartoons that demonstrate rather advanced mathematical topics

Related Lessons at this site


Background: This lesson set was proposed as a side lesson for High School Math Classes. It was used in a math education class at Temple University. This lesson was also used in an accelerated 8th grade math class.


Each student is assigned to pick a chapter to read and report to the class. Let the students pick the chapters themselves since they will pick what matters to them the most. It is suggested that students pick a chapter out of Beyond Numeracy, unless they prefer to try one of the other writings.

The reports are best used to present a five minute break to class when ever that works best for your class. This may be continued throughout the year.


  • The person who picked the topic mathematics and humor was please to see the connection between understanding a proof and getting a joke.
  • The person who picked topology was shocked to find little if any connection between topology and topography.
  • The person who picked game theory found that it helped enhance his understanding of his favorite sports.
  • The person who picked risk believed that if the Media regularly used Paulos's "Safety Index" it would help people better understand many regular issues in the news.



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