A Word of Explanation: Exploding Dots again (… and again? … and again?)

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics there are well over 700 million enrolled primary school students in the world and well over 500 million enrolled high school students. That is, there are well over 1.2 billion children attending school. According to the US National Center for Education Statistics there are over 50 million school students in the US alone.

In October 2017, we at the Global Math Project launched the world’s inaugural Global Math Week and brought to the world the mathematical story of Exploding Dots. Within the week we reached 1.7 million students across the globe, and the numbers have since continued to grow to 4.6 million. We are in the throes of organizing a next Global Math Week (10.10.2018), again with the story of Exploding Dots with the goal of reaching 10 million students.

As remarkable as attaining that goal shall be, the relative size and impact of that number is small: it accounts for less than 1% of the world’s enrolled students.

Moreover, in north America alone we are repeatedly hearing stories of teachers working in isolation to bring the work of the Global Math Project into their classrooms. There are not yet very many schools or school districts with a critical mass of educators able to provide each other the support to look at curriculum they teach in the joyous light we demonstrate.

The story of Exploding Dots provides such an easy on-ramp to revolutionizing how school mathematics can be viewed. It is immediately accessible, demonstrable proof that mathematics can truly, unashamedly, stand on its own and shine for itself. There is no need for bells and whistles, gimmicks, and a whole host of “real world applications” as evidence of meaning and relevancy.

We at the Global Math Project have decided it is important to keep emphasizing the story of Exploding Dots for the world and do our utmost to create that global community of sufficient critical mass to instigate a fundamental mind-shift of what school mathematics can, and should, be: absolutely open, accessible, joyous, uplifting, meaningful, and relevant for one and all.

EXPLODING DOTS FOR 2018. WHAT’S THE PLAN FOR 2019?

We are hearing the message that educators are delighted we are doing Exploding Dots again. Of course, one’s students change each year and so there is always a new audience at the ready for the experience: Exploding Dots is a new story to those new students! Also, as educators well know, it takes time to really process mathematics and it is valuable to mull on it, review it, and think about it multiple times. So, on that personal level, we are hearing too from educators appreciation for redoing the topic.

The fear that we might be a “one act wonder” is chiefly arising from folk who don’t have a focus on teaching in their work and careers. Like reading a good book, you want to immediately go on to a next good one afterwards. But if there is a focus in one’s life about how to best read and share books with others, then lingering on the same book for a while could be of value too.

Since the work of the Global Math Project is to create a global shift in perception of what mathematics can be for an ever-changing population of 1.2 billion school students and their teachers and their parents, let’s linger on this book for a spell! (By the way, we’ve added a couple of new chapters to the Exploding Dots story for 2018.)

BUT WE’RE NOT A ONE-ACT WONDER: TREATS FOR 2019

We want to reach the point where we feel that the story of Exploding Dots has really taken hold and there is a sizeable co-supporting community of educators across the globe to sustain the shift of mindset it demonstrates. We’ll keep that story our main theme for 2019 too.

But for those who also want chapters of the “next good book,” the Global Math Project team will develop and release shorter topic products. These will be grade-specific or topic-specific items that attend to school mathematics in our GMP mindset and philosophy. Expect to see, for instance, Patterns: What to do if you believe in them and what to do if you don’t for grades 8–11, and Weird Ways to Play with Area for grades 4–6, and so on.

And we’ll do the right thing and create and share teaser videos and curriculum samples before the start of 2019.

And when the time is soon right, out will come a next big all-encompassing mathematical story to push the shift of mindset a good nudge further.

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