Math Facts . . . Then and Now


The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.  ~Eric Hoffer, 

My first daughter was born in 1976 and by the time she was in the 7th grade in school, I was traveling the world on consulting assignments and as a result, not home that often, and especially not on most weekday nights when homework was due the next day.

We are all gifted in our own special ways, some are born for a role in sales, others gifted with a literary mind, still others destined to be engineers since they took apart their first toaster (and struggled to get it back together).  My daughter, Melia, is gifted at literature and writing, but is definitely not a mathematician, so she found her algebra and geometry homework challenging to say the least.

Dad, however, is pretty good at math, having taken algebra I and II, calculus, geometry, trigonometry, chemistry and organic chemistry all the way through high school and college.  So, Dad was assigned to help with math homework.

But traveling around the globe most weeknights presented a challenge in helping with girl-frustrated-with-mathmath homework.  Our solution?  Faxing homework papers to dad, then spending time on the telephone working problems together.  This approach, while semi-successful (she didn’t become an A student in math but passed with respectable grades), was not without its stresses and strains however.  Especially since she couldn’t “see” what I was talking about when it came to solving a geometry problem or how to reduce an equation. I am sad to say it was not infrequent that our sessions over the phone ended in tears (hers) and utter frustration and much guilt (mine).

Those days seem like the dark ages compared to the learning aids now available.  Dad has definitely been replaced (I can hear the cheering from both sides). Today learning math has become a whole lot easier and a heck of a lot more fun thanks to the Internet, learning algorithms and on-line education companies like Khan Academy and Maths Whizz.

KhanAcademyA couple of years ago I wrote a blog about Khan Academy (May 2011) and again in October, 2011. The Khan Academy has received significant funding from the Gates Foundation and now has over 4200 on-line learning video modules covering K-12 math, science topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and even reaches into finance and history. Each video is a digestible chunk, approximately 10 minutes long, and especially developed for viewing on the computer.

Last evening I had the pleasure of meeting the CEO of Maths Whizz, a relatively recent entry into the on-line learning market, but already having a great impact on math education globally.

“We are honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the lives of people worldwide by making a difference in their learning and potential to grow and live satisfying, confident and fulfilling lives.”    Richard Marett, CEO, Whizz Education

Founded in 2004 by a parent wanting to find a better way to teach maths, the London based firm now has offices in the US and the UAE and has their nearly 1,200 engaging and motivating maths exercises for 5-13 year olds translated into numerous languages, including Russian, Arabic and Thai. Behind the engaging animation lies sophisticated computer algorithms that assess your child’s skill and then delivers personalised virtual tuition, along with detailed progress reports for parents and teachers.

What a great way to improve the world, through education and math fundamentals for everyone and anyone!

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.  ~Nelson Mandela

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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1 Response to Math Facts . . . Then and Now

  1. Raunak says:

    John, this reminds me of my school days. I always struggled with literature…maths was a cake walk…but wordworth’s poetry was living hell for me.Fortunately, my dad was around to make sense of all those “cryptic” lines.
    Great to know about Khan Academy and Maths Whizz….brilliant endeavors! Am going to explore ways in which I can contribute to them.


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