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Beyond Numbers: A Practical Guide to Teaching Math Biblically Review by Kathy Gelzer

Katherine A. Loop
Christian Perspective
Fairfax, VA

Beyond Numbers is a book for homeschool parents about teaching math in a Christian context. The 97-page book thoroughly discusses why math is not a neutral subject and how it can be taught in a biblical way. The basic premises are that math was created by God and that math is practical. The book goes on to explain that teaching math biblically is much more than "adding a Bible verse or two to a math lesson." It involves showing the student how every math concept points us to God and brings glory to Him. 

The author suggests that parents keep an idea notebook for capturing thoughts about the practicality and application of math. There is a sample notebook in one of the appendices. I think this is a great project that parents and children should do together. 

One of the chapters provides an evaluation of many of the math curriculums popular among homeschoolers as well as some supplemental books. This is helpful in seeing the strengths and weaknesses of math books and materials from this perspective. There is also a bibliography of modern and older textbooks, supplemental materials, and miscellaneous resources. 

Although I think Beyond Numbers has an important message, I thought there was quite a bit of repetition. After a few chapters, I wanted to say, "Okay, you've sold me. I hear you!" And I really don't see anyone disagreeing with her argument that math is practical. 

I consider myself a conservative Christian who believes that God created all things; however, I don't think that means every time we mention something, such as a math principle or a science fact, we need to preface it by reiterating how this concept came from God. I think, as Christians, our thought patterns should be such that this goes without saying. Certainly, as Christian homeschoolers, we need to place our teaching in a Biblical context, but I think this is done in a broader sense than perhaps the author is proposing. 

Beyond Numbers should be read by homeschool parents who believe in teaching math in the context of their Christian faith but are unsure how to go about it. The ideas are convincing, and the author gives plenty of examples to demonstrate how to teach math biblically. Katherine Loop is a humble, down-to-earth writer who takes you by the hand and walks you through experiences in her own life (she is a homeschool graduate) and lets you know it is understandable if you don't know how to teach a particular math principle biblically. And she gives you suggestions for what to do when this happens.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2007