In 1981, John Saxon scraped together $80,000 from loans, savings, and a second mortgage on his house in order to publish his Algebra 1 textbook. He field-tested it for a year and proved that its simplicity was ingenious and, most of all, that it produced unbelievable and unmatched success among math students from all backgrounds. (The study was even monitored and praised by the Oklahoma office of the American Federation of Teachers.) Even with these results, the Saxon Publisher materials came to be seen as a maverick’s choice for American mathematics classrooms. To go against the established dominance of the NCTM in math education took courage and commitment from independent-thinking teachers and administrators.
John Saxon’s Story, a genius of common sense in math education is based on family home videos and articles he wrote for national media outlets, as well as from advertisements that he created for education journals and newspapers. These items were among 2,000 clippings and artifacts in his family’s personal archives.
The book is for anyone who knows and fears what reform math is doing to our children’s math skills. It will give answers to those critics who say Saxon is “drill-and-kill” rather than "thrill and skill," and that it is for the “lower-performing” students, which, in actuality is now 50% of American students. It also gives an accurate explanation of how to implement the program most effectively.
John Saxon’s Story will finally give teachers a chance to learn the truth about his program, even if they have to read about it behind closed doors. The effort to demean Saxon Mathematics in teacher training programs is legion. Diversity of thought and tolerance for differing views is clearly not present in schools of education when it comes to training teachers with fairness and accuracy in various programs that might include, for example, John’s “direct instruction” methods. When teachers have been lucky enough to use Saxon materials, many of them have admitted that for the first time they learned the depth of mathematics themselves because of his revolutionary lesson design.
Finally, John Saxon’s Story can help lighten the load for parents. They must get up to speed on the “inner workings” of decision-making in schools and why their children are in the middle of this disastrous state of mathematics education in America. Then, they have to be willing to fight as hard for their children as John Saxon did.