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 math 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.
A 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