I’ve had an affinity for math as far back I as can remember. I was the kind of kid that would get books about math from the school library. The book Magic House of Numbers may have changed my life. It was full of fun math — patterns, shortcuts, and challenging brain teasers. It helped solidify my life-long love of math.

Fast forward about 30 years… I decided to quit my job in R&D at Intel and finally pursue my passion of teaching kids math. I wanted to show the kids how much fun math could be. In 2008, I created a Math Plus Academy to do just that.

Along the way, I discovered how hard it is to make school math engaging. I struggled with getting kids to try challenging problems and persevere to solve them. When they inevitably failed to start or gave up too quickly, I went into “direct instruction” mode and just started telling them how to do the math. I didn’t want to do that, but I didn’t know any other way. I assumed my enthusiasm for math would be contagious — it wasn’t!

As a result, I’ve spent the last decade finding, creating, and testing ways to get kids curious about math and to encourage them to engage in productive struggle. My teaching has evolved and improved thanks to many folks including Paul Lockhart, James Tanton, Fawn Nguyen, and Dan Meyer.

Core Principles

I’ve come to believe in these five math teaching principles:

    1. Math is INTRINSICALLY IRRESISTIBLE (but school math often is not).

    2. EVERYONE can do math.

    3. Learning starts with CURIOSITY.

    4. Teachers must present math like a VIDEO GAME DESIGNER.

    5. Math is best learned by DOING, not being told.

Experience

    • Five years ago, I created a video explaining the “new math”. It went viral and was viewed over a million times. Parents, teachers, and administrators from around the country shared it within their communities.

    • In 2015, I joined James Tanton and several others to create the non-profit Global Math Project to spread math joy around the planet. As a result, over 20,000 teachers have shared joyful mathematics with over 5 million kids!

    • In 2019, I gave a TEDx talk and crossed an item off my bucket list 🙂

    • I’ve consulted and presented at many organizations including: