Home > #MTBoS, A Level, Books, GCSE, KS3, Maths, Teaching > Nix the Tricks – A Book Review

Nix the Tricks – A Book Review

A little while ago I wrote a piece around BIDMAS and the problems it can cause just teaching mnemonics without bothering to fully explain the underlying concepts. It was borne of the frustration of many conversations along the lines of

“Sir, you’ve got that wrong 9 – 3 + 2 is 4 because you do addition first.” 

“No, addition and subtraction are inverse operations, they are of the same order you we perform them left to right.”

“No, Mr so and so taught me that you always follow BIDMAS”


Someone responded to my post with a tweet which linked to “Nix The Tricks“, which is freely available as an ebook, and I downloaded and read it.

The book itself is great, it is a collaborative effort by many maths teachers who share my frustration with the problems that teaching this sort of “trick”, rather than deeper understanding, can cause. The book has been put together by Tina Cardone (@crstn85). Tina and her collaborators go one step further that venting about the tricks and offer some brilliant alternative methods to help teachers who haven’t thought in detail about how to teach certain topics.

Its a fantastic book and I would advise any maths teacher to download a copy, especially those new to the profession.


  1. placlair
    July 16, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I face the same thing with Latin language teaching: It is easy to memorize the forms (via mnemonics), but you’ll never truly LEARN them until you work with them in context, understand their development, and recognize the patterns.

  2. September 14, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks for the link to the book. A great resource! I’ll be sharing this with the department.

    I’ve just had to re-cover order of operations with Year 10 and they finally understand. Hopefully they’ll remember how we’ve approached it this time, rather than relying on just BIDMAS.

  1. September 14, 2014 at 3:02 pm

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