Some reviews of Leone Burton's work

We give some extracts to some works by Leone Burton. Some are books she has written or co-authored. Others are books she has edited (and often contributed to) and, in these cases, we have tried to give an extract which says something of Burton's contributions.


  1. Thinking Mathematically (1982), by John Mason, Leone Burton and Kaye Stacey.

    1.1. Review by: G Glaeser.
    Educational Studies in Mathematics 14 (1) (1983), 104-105.

    This excellent volume deals with a very particular (but important) aspect of solving problems. It gives advice on psychological preparation and conditioning during the process of research. The central idea of the work is the importance given to the ability to actively be stumped. For those who don't have the mathematics that sad experience of preparing for examinations, being stumped is a stressful experience that leads to failure. But the joyful practice of mathematics reveals the enrichment represented by the long pursuit of a solution which seems to be constantly snatched away. And finally, success is finally achieved after a long effort. This book thus rehabilitates the prolonged search as a source of pleasure.

  2. Girls into Maths Can Go (1986), by Leone Burton (ed.).

    2.1. Review by: Bridgid Sewell.
    British Journal of Educational Studies 35 (3) (1987), 290-291.

    The fact that many people, especially women, have a negative attitude to mathematics is now widely accepted, and mathematics educators are beginning realise the value of a positive attitude which is likely to lead both to a greater enjoyment of mathematics and to success. ... The first half of the book enlarges on the theme 'What is the problem?'. An analysis by gender of test results of Primary children's mathematics sheds new light on those aspects at which girls excel, and this leads to a consideration of the nature of the mathematical experience which is being tested. Do teachers value serialist thinkers rather than those with a more versatile approach? Is this due to the way the teachers themselves learnt (and teach) mathematics? Which approach is valued more highly at Secondary level? The more questions we consider, the more complex the is seen to be. ... The second half of the book, 'What can be done?', describes a range of approaches which have been tried, including a survey of home ownership of computers, grouping the replies by the sex of the children in the home, which indicates the need for positive steps to be taken right from the start of schooling so as to ensure a fair deal for girls. There is also an account of the steps taken by a teacher determined that her 3rd year pupils would not give up mathematics, a response to the challenge of equal opportunities in a Primary school, an experiment which included single sex grouping in a 14-19 school and community college, and the highly successful 'Be a Sumbody' days. There are also more abstract articles on the way in which questions are posed in mathematics and on the nature of freedom of choice with reference to choosing not to try in mathematics. ... Finally there is an appendix on women mathematicians of the past. You might wonder why you had not heard of them before - but in the light of earlier sections of this book, you would no longer be surprised.

    2.2. Review by: Carole Spencer.
    The Arithmetic Teacher 36 (9) (1989), 32-33.

    In 'Girls into Maths Can Go', the editor has selected a series of eighteen articles, each of which emphasizes a different aspect of the effects of discriminatory practices in British schools on girls' mathematical learning. The book is divided into two major sections. Articles contained in section 1 define the problem, whereas those in section 2 offer suggestions to teachers for how to counteract the effects of such discriminatory practices. The teacher (reader) is encouraged to reflect on the implications in the articles for his or her own teaching practices. The book includes articles that delineate the scope of the discriminatory practices that educators, through a lack of awareness or knowledge, inadvertently continue to use, thus perpetuating the problem. The perception of attitudinal differences between the sexes, the influence of gender roles at home and school, the male-dominated composition of primary-level mathematics books, and the negative implications of careers in mathematics for girls represent the topics addressed by the various articles.

  3. Gender and Mathematics: An International Perspective (1990), by Leone Burton (ed.).

    3.1. Review by: Laurie E Hart.
    Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 23 (1) (1992), 79-83.

    Leone Burton, editor of the volume and organizer of the group, has included a number of chapters in which gender and mathematics are viewed from a first-generation perspective; these chapters include interesting research results and a variety of approaches to research methodology.

    3.2. Review by: Willis N Johnson.
    The Mathematics Teacher 85 (4) (1992), 315-316.

    After reading the 162 pages that compose this book, the reader will have gained a healthy perspective on how far the world has come, or has not come, with regard to the role of women in mathematics. This book is a fine collection of research and essays from around the world as edited by Leone Burton, the first to publish on gender and mathematics in the United Kingdom. In 1988, the Sixth International Congress on Mathematics Education was held in Budapest, Hungary. There the twenty-two authors met to discuss gender and mathematics, the result of such being 'Gender and Mathematics'. The first paragraph challenges the notion of those who say, "I concentrate on the student and do not notice sex, race, etcetera" and who say that they provide "equivalence of outcomes." The book argues that the classroom is a sociopolitical setting where different messages are given and received by different groups of students.

  4. Children Learning Mathematics: Patterns and Relationships (1994), by Leone Burton.

    4.1. Review by: Lesley Jones.
    Mathematics in School 24 (2) (1995), 47.

    Mathematics is represented as a lively, vibrant and challenging subject in which children can become active participants. Teachers who have previously heard Burton talk will recognise the delightful mix of provocative, challenging thinking and an informal style. She talks about ideas that "wobble your thinking" and refers to mathematics as a "non cuddly subject." I found this lightness of touch enhanced my enjoyment of the book. This book is certainly one which I shall recommend to teachers and students. I do hope that it will be read by secondary as well as primary teachers. Most of the ideas explored are equally relevant in the secondary sector and the examples of work from primary schools should help secondary school teachers appreciate how much children are capable of, providing they are encouraged to work in an independent and creative way.

  5. Learning Mathematics: From Hierarchies to Networks (1999), by Leone Burton (ed.).

    5.1. Review by: Christine Brew.
    British Educational Research Journal 28 (3) (2002), 466-468.

    The contributing authors begin by skilfully problematising their theoretical perspectives, then with conviction, take you on a journey - a somewhat philosophical discourse with tangents. Many of these tangents are interesting, if not insightful, others perhaps less viable. Hence, the chapters are not always tight, but they flow, and to adopt Bruner, as described by Burton (chapter 2), they commonly employ an imaginative narrative, inserting 'generality into the particularities of the narrative, attempting to tell engaging and believable stories'. The concrete examples provided for illustration, however, are a weakness, not always as rich as I believe the authors intended them to be. For example, Burton describes how students responded disbelievingly to a mathematical error in a published work. She proposes this as an example of a divergence in approach to mathematics, students struggling to accept mathematics as negotiable. Yet, errors do not challenge the notion of absolute mathematical truth; if anything, they reinforce it.


JOC/EFR November 2017

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