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20: Rebuilding Mathematics Education w/ Sunil Singh

Ep. 20

Sunil Singh was a high school math and physics teacher for 19 years. Before he quit teaching in the classroom in 2013, he had taught everything from basic math for junior students to IB math for honors-level students. He has worked in a socioeconomically challenging environment of an inner-city school in Toronto and at the prestigious International School of Lausanne in Switzerland. His vast experience teaching math in every setting imaginable has helped him become a leader in creative math education in North America. Since 2005, he has given over 50 workshops on kindergarten to grade 12 mathematics at various locations—math conferences, faculties of education, and even the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. In addition to having been a regular contributor to the New York Times “Numberplay” section, Singh works full time as a math consultant for Scolab, a digital math resource company in Montreal, Canada. As well, he travels all over North America as a speaker and promoting Family Math Nights in local communities. He is an integral component of the Global Math Project, and his ambassador designation is helping him communicate the beauty and happiness of mathematics throughout the world. He is the author of Pi of Life: The Hidden Happiness of Mathematics, and his next book, Math Recess, a co-writing endeavor with kindred math spirit, Chris Brownell, will be out in Spring 2019.

This podcast is roughly divided into two parts - the first on current issues in mathematics, the second on what change looks like and its implementation.

Sunil and I spoke about a lot that personally resonated with me. One factor I wasn't expecting were Sunil's opinions on a shift to personal finance from Algebra I and other similar shifts in "relevant math." To me, this was a no-brainer - utilize applied math skills instead of our traditional building blocks. However, Sunil noted that not only are these concepts simple - they don't necessarily reform the issues we currently have. His analogy: instead of rearranging the room of a house, implode it. This shifted my thinking on this concept. Math is much more than I give it credit for - and a math curriculum housed (partly) around justice, love, and happiness seems otherworldly. It's hard to comprehend in a culture that's so logistically focused on math - especially in the classroom. However, I believe Sunil's argument is well-stated.

Near the end of the talk, we highlighted one of the most important notions - can real change happen? How can we make a change now? We offered starting points: "find your tribe" on social media or in your building, try new things and be open to innovation, and fight. If you know what's best practice - you know the culture of your school - and you fight for change, but nothing is done even after organizing and preaching best practice? Then perhaps you're at the wrong place. Seek out a school that embraces what's best for children - a place where your voice is heard. They're out there in increasing numbers. Change in education is more than complaining, it's about taking action.


Sunil advised that all math teachers (or educators in general) watch Dan Finkle's "Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching."

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112: Keep Hope Alive w/ Deborah Meier

Ep. 112
Today’s guest is Deborah Meier, who really needs no introduction for advocates of progressive education. Meier is the founder of the modern small schools movement, that aims to reorganize larger schools into smaller, democratic ones. She was founder and director of Central Park East, a Dewey-inspired progressive school in East Harlem, New York City. She also opened Central Park East II, River East, and the Central Park East Secondary School the same neighborhood. This led her to establish a network of similarly minded schools in New York City, and eventually founding Mission Hill School in Boston.Meier is an advocate of democratic, progressive, public schools who has served on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Academy of Education, The Nation, Dissent, and more. She is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, as well as the author of multiple books including the recently co-authored These Schools Belong to You and Me: Why We Can’t Afford to Abandon our Public Schools. Meier is a huge inspiration to us at Human Restoration Project and we frequently draw on her work in our materials and advocacy.In this podcast, Meier and I talk about building a coalition of schools, educators, families, and community members to build and protect a progressive public education, discussing the importance of building a public education system that strengthens and models a democracy.GUESTSDeborah Meier, founding director of Central Park East and Mission Hill School, as well as various progressive democratic public schools, and author of various works including co-authoring These Schools Belong to You and Me: Why We Can’t Afford to Abandon our Public SchoolsRESOURCESDeborah Meier's websiteThese Schools Belong to You and Me: Why We Can’t Afford to Abandon our Public SchoolsThe Power of Their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in HarlemSUPPORT THE MOVEMENT TO END GUN VIOLENCEMarch for Our Lives 2022 National Rally (June 11th, 2022)Donate: March for Our LivesDonate: EverytownDonate: Moms Demand ActionDonate: Sandy Hook PromiseDonate: GoFundMe - Uvalde, TexasDonate: GoFundMe - Buffalo, New York
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111: Building the Modern Progressive Education Movement w/ David Buck

Ep. 111
On today’s podcast we are joined by David Buck. David is an English professor at Howard Community College in Maryland who is actively involved in the ungrading movement, as well as focusing on open access resources, open pedagogy, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To foster and grow the practice of ungrading, David is actively involved in utilizing social and other online media for discussion, including but not limited to his “Let’s Talk Ungrading” Twitter Spaces, which is also an edited podcast, the Ungrading Twitter Community, the Ungrading Book Club, the Ungrading Discord Community, and “Crowdsourcing Ungrading” an open-access book on Pressbooks.We talk about:The desire and need for more spaces to gather and reflect on progressive education.What it means to build these spaces in "new media", such as Discord or Twitter Spaces.How we can get more young people involved in joining, curating, and creating these spaces (such as on Twitch).How we can inspire more educators to lead and grow these spaces, co-created with students.GUESTSDavid Buck, English professor at Howard Community College and mass-curator and co-leader of various ungrading spacesRESOURCES#Ungrading: A Digital Ethnography (Dissertation by Christina Moore)David Buck's Twitter (and location for Twitter Spaces)Crowdsourced Ungrading PressbookDavid Buck's Sutori Student BlogsUngrading HUB (Discord)Human Restoration Project (Discord)