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The Math Revolution: No Longer In The Shadows of Subversiveness

Both of my kids love math. Both of my kids find math to be their least favorite subject in school. That isn’t so much as contradictory, as it is history. What is sadder is that I am now indifferent to their situation. I have stopped asking what they are doing in math, because hearing monotone responses of “something about trapezoids” has become disheartening. I don’t worry that school isn’t going to make them functionally literate when it comes to math — although the tax for that will be antiquated tests, worksheets, statistically and emotionally meaningless grades, and other assorted goodies from math education’s 20th century time capsule.

What I worry about is my kids not loving mathematics.

Which means I worry about kids in general not loving mathematics. It turns out a lot of other people are “worrying”. Those Twitter numbers below transpired in just over 24 hrs.

The problem for mathematics’ marriage with education is that it has generally suffered from an orthodox mentality that can be traced back to the purpose of school from the Industrial Revolution. Practicality and Efficiency in the acquisition of mathematical knowledge. Math education has not deviated too much from that in the last 100 years. But, to be fair, education has not deviated too far from its Dickensian roots either.

Until this past decade.

This decade has given birth to what we can almost officially refer to as The Age of Disruption, where traditional pillars of trust — institutions — have started to crumble. As such, the historical, vertical movement of trust through traditional hierarchies is losing currency. Trust, as I have mentioned in previous articles, is moving horizontally with a robust engine of socialization/deeper human connection.

What is in abundant flow — a tsunami really — are deep dives into the human essence of learning and sharing. And so many of these ideas, emboldened by a revolution of the human spirit in education, are being committed to game-changing books.

One of the latest offerings from the wildly popular books published through Dave Burgess Publishing is Elizabeth Bostwick’s, Take The Leap.

I would like you to not only just pause on those words, but just the cover. The cover, with its colors, variety of fonts, and images of connected gears, symbolizes the changes that are rapidly occurring in education.

Mathematics cannot be immune from these changes. It cannot continue to operate and function with directives and mandates that occupy the narrow domain of outdated procedures and purposes.

And even with the tremendous work of people like Jo Boaler(youcubed) and James Tanton(The Global Math Project), math communities all over need to invite more holistic and human ideas about education — to ensure that the work of these math revolutionaries not just survives, but thrives.

It cannot think for one second that all the changes happening in education will bypass it — that there will be no cross-pollination of innovative/disruptive ideas that have become omnipresent in schools everywhere.

Francis Su, who gave the closing keynote at NCTM’s Annual Meeting in 2018, has raised the bar for all of us to “leap” over…

Image result for francis su mathematics beauty truth

Human Flourishing. That is the ocean that education is trying to find. Math education, while still generally running like a constrained and stressed river, is also beginning that search. The revolution that was promised in the past or lurked in closets, wholly intimidated by math education’s elitist structure and machinery, is finally afoot — fearless and formidable.

The math revolution is being driven by play, truth, beauty, justice(equity), and love. My own children will most likely miss it — but, their kids won’t…

The revolution is for the next generation. I do not need to see it. I just need to know it will happen.

No more shadows. A sun awaits us.




Reimagining the learning and teaching of mathematics

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Sunil Singh

Sunil Singh

Author, porous educator, audiophile.

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