Jo Boaler

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Jo Boaler
Dr Jo Boaler.jpg
Born (1964-02-18) 18 February 1964 (age 58)
England, United Kingdom
Alma materKing's College London
Liverpool University
Scientific career
FieldsMathematics education
InstitutionsStanford University
youcubed (founder)
Doctoral advisorPaul Black
Mike Askew

Jo Boaler (born 18 February 1964)[1] is a British education author and Nomellini-Olivier Professor of Mathematics Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education.[2] Boaler is involved in promoting reform mathematics and equitable mathematics classrooms.[3][4] She is the co-founder and faculty director of youcubed,[5] a Stanford centre that markets and sells mathematics education resources to teachers, students and parents. She is the author of nine books, including Limitless Mind (2019), Mathematical Mindsets (2016), What's Math Got To Do With It? (2009)[6] and The Elephant in the Classroom (2010),[7] all written for teachers and parents with the goal of improving mathematics education in both the US and UK.

Education and training[edit]

Jo Boaler received a Bachelors in Psychology from Liverpool University in 1985.[8][2] Jo Boaler then began her career as a secondary mathematics teacher in urban London secondary schools, including Haverstock School, Camden.[2] After her early career in secondary mathematics education, Boaler received a master's degree in Mathematics Education from King's College London with distinction in 1991. She completed her PhD in mathematics education at the same university and won the award for best PhD in education from the British Educational Research Association in 1997.[9]

Academic career[edit]

Early career[edit]

In 1998, Jo Boaler became an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University in the Graduate School of Education.[2] She became an associate professor in 2000 and left as a full professor in 2006.[2] From 2000 to 2004, Boaler served as the president of the International Organization of Women and Mathematics Education.[10]

In 2006, Stanford mathematician R. James Milgram formally charged Boaler with scientific misconduct, which prompted Stanford University to investigate claims challenging the validity of her research. Stanford's initial investigation concluded by acknowledging ongoing debates in mathematics education and absolving Boaler of scientific misconduct stating that the allegations "do not have substance".[11] Milgram, fellow mathematician Wayne Bishop (California State University) and statistician Paul Clopton published an online paper outlining their complaints about her Railside report.[12][13] The story was circulated widely on social media and picked up by the national press.[11]

Return to England[edit]

In 2006 Boaler was awarded a posting as the Marie Curie professor at Sussex University by the Marie Curie Foundation.[14] While in England, Boaler authored two books, "What's Math Got To Do With It?" and "The Elephant in the Classroom".[15][16]

Return to Stanford[edit]

In 2010 Boaler returned to Stanford and resumed her position as Professor of Mathematics Education.[2] In 2013, Boaler taught the first Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on mathematics education, called "How to Learn Math".[17][18] Its purpose was to educate teachers and parents about a new way of teaching math to help students overcome their fear of math while improving their academic performance.[19] Over 40,000 teachers and parents participated, with about 25,000 completing the full 2-to-16-hour course.[20] At the end of course, 95% of survey respondents indicated that they would modify their ways of teaching math.[17][21] Boaler also provides consultation to other Silicon Valley digital educational institutions, such as Novo-ed,[22] Inner Tube Games,[23] and Udacity.[24] In addition, she teaches workshops on teaching for a growth mindset,[25] drawing upon the work of Carol Dweck, author and developer of the theory of growth mindset.[26]

In 2012 Boaler published an article on her Stanford homepage, accusing Milgram, Bishop (and others) of harassment, persecution, and suppression.[27] Bishop and Milgram each issued rebuttals to Boaler's claims.[28][29]


During the early part of Boaler's career, she conducted longitudinal studies of students learning mathematics through different approaches. Her first three-year study in England was published as "Experiencing School Mathematics: Teaching Styles, Sex, and Setting."[30] In 2000, she was awarded a presidential Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation.[31] This funded a four-year study of students learning mathematics through different approaches in three US high schools.[32] In addition to focusing on inquiry-based learning (also called enquiry-based learning),[11] Boaler's research has highlighted the problems associated with ability grouping in England and the US.[33][34][35]

More recently, Boaler has published articles on the links between timed testing and math anxiety.[36] Boaler had conducted research on mathematics, mistakes, and growth mindset[37] with Stanford University professors Carol Dweck[38] and Greg Walton.[39][edit]

In 2013, Boaler founded with Cathy Williams, former director of Mathematics in the Vista Unified School District.[40] The mission of the site is to offer inspirational mathematics resources for mathematics teachers.[41]

Common Core[edit]

As Common Core was being launched in 2015, Boaler singled out New York State's implementation of the standard, saying it interpreted fluency to mean memorization and speed.[42] This ignited a controversy in England, prompting Charlie Stripp, director of England's National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics to respond in an op-ed.[43][44]

2021 California Math Framework[edit]

Jo Boaler is the lead author of the fiercely debated 2021 Revision of the California Mathematics Framework.[45] The framework seeks to refocus mathematics education away from acceleration and towards equity.[46][47] The new framework requires all students to take the same fixed set of math courses until their junior year of high school, which critics, including leading mathematicians, say will hold back gifted students.[48][49][50]

In April 2022, it was revealed that Boaler had been contracted to train teachers in the Oxnard Elementary School District for a total of $40,000. UC Berkeley Professor Jelani Nelson, who had previously criticized the Framework for lowering educational standards as well as its lack of diversity, responded by describing the arrangement as alarming. Boaler wrongly pinned the online sharing of her personal information on Nelson—sensitive data that were made public by the district she wanted to consult with—which led her to threaten the involvement of the police against him. Nelson then published the threatening, passive aggressive email Boaler sent him, which prompted him to accuse Boaler of following in a series of white Americans who have used police officers to intimidate African Americans to yield to their unlawful, histrionic demands.[51][52][53] – The Stanford Review, which operates on the same campus as Boaler, labeled her "Professor Karen" due to her attempt to silence a fellow academic over a simple disagreement by threatening to involve lawyers and police officers.[52] This nickname came a day after Nelson labeled her "Retweet Rachel" on his Twitter account.[53]

After Nelson's tweets highlighting Boaler's attempted intimidation, she wrote to a SF Gate reporter claiming that she received threatening, hateful and misogynistic emails and texts, as well as graphic threats to kill her daughters.[53]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 2000 – 2004 President: International Organisation of Women and Mathematics Education (IOWME)[10]
  • 2004 Fellow: Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences[54]
  • 2007 Chair of Excellence: The Marie Curie Foundation[55]
  • 2010 Lecture at The Royal Society[56]
  • She is included in a deck of playing cards featuring notable women mathematicians published by the Association of Women in Mathematics.[57]


  1. ^ Birth year from Library of Congress authority control file. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Faculty profile for Jo Boaler". Stanford University. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  3. ^ Boaler, J. (2002). Paying the Price for "Sugar and Spice": Shifting the Analytical Lens in Equity Research. Mathematical Thinking and Learning. 4(2&3),127–144.
  4. ^ Stanford, Peter (20 October 2012). "Make Britain Count: 'Stop telling children maths isn't for them'". The Telegraph.
  5. ^ "Our Team". youcubed. Stanford Graduate School of Education.
  6. ^ Boaler, J (2009). What's Math Got To Do With It? How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject. Penguin: New York.
  7. ^ Boaler, J. (2010). The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn & Love Maths. Souvenir Press: London
  8. ^ "Three Stanford education professors appointed to endowed chairs". Stanford University. Stanford University. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  9. ^ "Jo Boaler". Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Stanford Graduate School of Education. 8 October 2012.
  10. ^ a b The International Organization of Women and Mathematics Education
  11. ^ a b c Jaschik, Scott (15 October 2012). "Casualty of the math wars". Inside Higher Ed.
  12. ^ Boaler, J; Staples, M (2008). "Creating Mathematical Futures through an Equitable Teaching Approach: The Case of Railside School" (PDF). Teachers' College Record. 110 (3): 608–645. doi:10.1177/016146810811000302. S2CID 145439516. Retrieved 12 June 2021.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Bishop, Wayne; Clopton, Paul; Milgram, James. "A Close Examination of Jo Boaler's Railside Report" (PDF). Retrieved 6 February 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Boaler, Jo. "Profile Page". University of Sussex. University of Sussex. Archived from the original on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2021.
  15. ^ Boaler, Jo (17 July 2008). What's Math Got To Do With It? How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject. Viking. ISBN 9780670019526.
  16. ^ Boaler, Jo (1 February 2010). The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths. Souvenir Press. ISBN 978-0285638754.
  17. ^ a b Boaler, Jo (12 November 2013). "The Stereotypes That Distort How Americans Teach and Learn Math". The Atlantic.
  18. ^ Johnston, Theresa (20 May 2014). "Math in action: New online courses offer fresh approach to subject". Graduate School of Education News. Stanford.
  19. ^ Rabinovitz, Jonathan (1 July 2013). "Stanford Experiments With Digital Course Designed To Help Students Overcome Fear of Math". wiredacademic. Archived from the original on 22 June 2014.
  20. ^ University education: maturing of the Mooc?
  21. ^ How to Learn Math
  22. ^ "Home".
  23. ^ "Free Fire Generator & Free Fire Diamonds Generator Hack Tool". 2 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Udacity – Free Online Classes & Nanodegrees | Udacity".
  25. ^[bare URL PDF]
  26. ^ Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset, the new psychology of success. Random House.
  27. ^ Boaler, Jo (October 2012). "When Academic Disagreement Becomes Harassment and Persecution".
  28. ^ Bishop, Wayne; Milgram, R. James. "A Response to Some of the Points of: When Academic Disagreement Becomes Harassment and Persecution". Archived from the original on 24 March 2017.
  29. ^ Milgram, R. James. "Private Data – The Real Story: A Huge Problem with Education Research" (PDF).
  30. ^ Boaler, Jo (1997). Experiencing school mathematics: Teaching styles, sex, and setting. ISBN 978-0335199624.
  31. ^ "Honorary Awards | NSF – National Science Foundation".
  32. ^ "What is Project-Based Learning?". PBS.
  33. ^ Boaler, Jo (2013). "Ability and Mathematics: the mindset revolution that is reshaping education". Forum. 55 (1): 143–152. doi:10.2304/forum.2013.55.1.143. ISSN 0963-8253. S2CID 147018963.
  34. ^ Benn, Melissa (8 August 2011). "Streaming primary school pupils labels them for life". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2019. Academic Jo Boaler followed two groups of young adolescents in the mid-90s, one separated into rigid ability groups, the other taught in mixed-ability groupings. Not only did the mixed-ability students outperform those who had been put into separate groups in national examinations, but when Boaler tracked down a representative sample from both schools, she found the mixed-ability group had achieved more social mobility, in relation to their parents, than their streamed peers.
  35. ^ Boaler, Jo (10 February 2005). "Jo Boaler: Setting by ability does not work". The Independent. Archived from the original on 9 June 2022. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  36. ^ Boaler, Jo (3 July 2012). "Timed Tests and the Development of Math Anxiety". Education Week. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  37. ^ Rushowy, Kristin (9 December 2013). "Tips to make math more enjoyable for young learners". The Star. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  38. ^ "Stanford Login".
  39. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  40. ^ "Our Team". youcubed. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  41. ^ "Our Mission". youcubed. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  42. ^ Scott, Sam (27 April 2018). "Jo Boaler Wants Everyone to Love Math". Stanford Magazine. Stanford University. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  43. ^ Barshay, Jill. "Should We Stop Making Kids Memorize Times Tables?". US News and World Report. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  44. ^ Stripp, Charlie. "'It is wrong to tell children that they do not need to memorise their times tables'". Tes. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  45. ^ Fortin, Jacey (4 November 2021). "California Tries to Close the Gap in Math, but Sets Off a Backlash". New York Times. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  46. ^ "Mathematics Framework". California Department of Education. State of California. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  47. ^ Sze, Kristen. "California's newly proposed math framework seeks equity as part of the equation". ABC 7 News. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  48. ^ Hodousek, Carrie (23 May 2021). "Will California's plan to change math instruction help or hurt students?". MSN. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  49. ^ Meckler, Laura (4 June 2021). "Can honors and regular students learn math together? A new approach argues yes". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  50. ^ Richards, Bloch, Stern, Fernando (7 December 2021). "Is math racist? A debate is raging". USA Today. Retrieved 8 December 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  51. ^ Tucker, Jill (5 April 2022). "California math wars get ugly: Accusations of racism and harassment ignite battle between Stanford and Cal profs". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  52. ^ a b Stanford Review (5 April 2022). "Professor Karen? Woke Stanford education prof calls the cops on Berkeley prof who exposed her $5000/hour consulting fee!". The Stanford Review. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  53. ^ a b c Ting, Eric (7 April 2022), "Stanford professor branded 'Professor Karen' over email to Black UC Berkeley professor speaks out", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 8 April 2022
  54. ^ "Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences |".
  55. ^ "Research and innovation".
  56. ^ [1] Archived 30 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  57. ^ "Mathematicians of EvenQuads Deck 1". Retrieved 18 June 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]