“Then I Saw Her Face, Now I’m a Believer”: The Power of Family Math Nights!

Last month, Chris Brownell called for a Math Revolution by quoting the great John Lennon. He even played homage to the British musician by adding an S and calling it maths.

I will model that analogy with my own musical revelation related to family math nights. I have seen the king of family math nights, Sunil Singh, and the documentation of the incredibly creative things that he does at these events.

The Mathematical Jester showing kids Exploding Dots at a Family Math Night

It was not until I took my own children to a family math night at their school that the impact of the event really hit me. Then I Saw Her Face, Now I’m a Believer! Everything that I want mathematics to be was occurring at this event. Fun, engaging, building conceptual understanding, joyful, and more. Students were moving from stations playing games, making predictions, given challenges, using appropriate technology and the place was packed. Parents and their children filled the room doing math activities with their kids.

Now, how do we transform this experience into the regular classroom learning? How do we capture that excitement at the family math nights to support our students every day?

I do not have the answer, but I believe that it is rooted in the need for a complete curriculum overhaul. Eight years ago Dan Meyer began the discussion with his famous TEDx talk and the discussion has erupted. Sunil and others began developing a fantasy K to 12 Math Curriculum that is bloody brilliant, but yet we seem to be getting the same cookie cutter textbooks wrapped up with a “Common Core” sticker, but there is no USDA for Math Education. Why? Because these are businesses creating the curriculum and they know what sells. Extensive homework, online repetition of basic math procedures, and plenty of assessments. None of which were present at my children’s math night and I am thankful for it. Instead, what if we let kids just play?

Could we move a curriculum could use the Desmos business model in some capacity? Let’s build a new curriculum, like Desmos, that only cares about helping every student learning and love math. Could a complete free curriculum be created?

It would make every day a joyful experience and disappointment would no longer haunt all my dreams.

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