The following panel discussion took place during our Social Impact Connect conference night. A tech-enabled future holds both promise and anxiety as communities look at how best to prepare their workforces, often focused on STEM education. Frequently, the focus on technology and engineering experiences put too little emphasis on the core math proficiency needed to truly succeed in these fields. The panel discusses the missing “M” in STEM education.
The following panel discussion took place during our Social Impact Connect conference night. A tech-enabled future holds both promise and anxiety as communities look at how best to prepare their workforces, often focused on STEM education. Frequently, the focus on technology and engineering experiences put too little emphasis on the core math proficiency needed to truly succeed in these fields. The panel discusses the missing “M” in STEM education.
Hi, This is Julia Hilco and you're listening to life from the cafe Recorded Life Adventure Cafe Cambridge for innovation is for everyone. The following panel discussion took place during her Social Impact Connect conference night. A tech enabled future holds both promise and anxiety as communities look how to best prepared their workforces, often focusing on stem education. Frequently, though, the focus on technology and engineering experiences puts too little emphasis on the core math proficiency needed to truly succeed in these fields. The panel discusses the missing M in stem education.
So welcome. Thank you all for being here. My name is Marinella and I remain here and I am the CEO of investors, which what I'm gonna do tonight is play the role of Moderator Context center and data delivered Tonight we've assembled a great panel in this room to talk about the topic of the missing M in stem, which is the really the need to focus on the challenges of math, education and mathematics proficiency that unlock opportunities in the other S T E of science, technology and engineering and careers in Kendall Square and lots of places that provide ah family advancing wages in this city and in other places.
So what I'm gonna do is to start with a two minute context of what investors is
and what our work is. That then Segways into the conversation more broadly around the panel and have our three Panelists introduced themselves. But I'll start with a quick intro. Ah, that investors, as I said in the other room, is a school improvement organization. We work in Boston, two in partnership with schools to Dr Improvement in making sure that there's a quality education for all of our students in the city. We work in three ways. We seed funds, good ideas. So we act in sort of a venture platform way for educators for as an open call for their good ideas. Coming from the classroom of we spotlight school improvement. We give $100,000 prize to one of the most improving Boston public schools every year, and then we work at scale around issue areas where there are gaps and white space, and we think we can make a difference by bringing partners together and new resource is to the table. We currently do that around arts education, career pathways in high school and middle grades math. And it is our middle grades math work, which we called zeroing in on math That brings us here tonight. Um, in a time when we know the fastest joint growing jobs in our city and in our region or in stem, this is a really important issue. So I'm just delighted to be joined here tonight with by three amazing Panelists Justin Rice, Julie body and, uh, Purna riots, Um, who are gonna introduce themselves with their name? Ah, And, uh, what your role is And then one word that describes your relationship to math when you were in eighth grader 13.
All right, so I'm Justin. Right? I'm a faculty member at M I t ever in a lab called the Teaching Systems Lab. We're really interested in the future of how teachers learn on. We're particularly interested in how teachers have opportunities to practice as they're learning. Um, and I loved math when I was in eighth grade. I thought it was super fun.
Okay, of my name is Julie, but I'm the principal of the Ellis Middle School, which is Ah, an elementary school in the Boston public schools. Um, and in eighth grade. My relationship with math was complicated.
Um, hi. My name is cyberterrorism. I am, ah, VP engineering rack of my technologies at Arkham I. I run the research and engineering for all of the security products and eighth grade my relationship. But it was Matt was often on. Okay,
great. So you all can think about that Question yourself as well as other questions you might have is we go through this conversation, but I want to start with that piece about in my intro of sorts, that the M in stem being kind of invisible. Um, and that's how we see it Anyway. We think it gets a lot less attention. And
what do you think
it's, uh, lost or what's at risk when math has overlooked or through another lens? Why do you think math and that education is so important? Sure.
So, um, I think there's some. It's a multi dimensional problem that manifests in interesting ways. So when, um in the security business, more and more, in fact, when I compare notes with some of my peers in other industries, we find that more and more we're relying on things like machine learning. data science. Aye, aye. And other technology, the other technology technological tools to assist with our with our solutions. Now, when you scratch the surface and remove all the buzz words, all of these things actually stand for advanced math. And what the industry does not have enough off is true math experts. So if you if you go back 20 years Ah ah, lot of the complex techniques like a neural network or applying a mathematical model waas truly the domain off academia and really the experts in the educational industry. We're the only ones that could figure that out. Now, with large enterprises like Google and Facebook, there's been a fair amount of democratization off those techniques. So now what you have now is that these these technologies are available, so at some level they're available. Very could apply model. That's that's become easy. But what's not easy and what remains ever so complicated is actually figuring out what more little eyes to what problem and that is irreplaceable if you don't have pure math fundamentals. So where it manifests to come back to the new once is that waited Manifest is more and more companies need these more and more companies have large engineering machines are. For example, I have a 450 person engineering team. I have a team off something like 20 data scientists, and so just do the do the mat that s O. And what happens is the large engineering machines are waiting for the brain by playing on the parade. So and the brain often is the the folks that can sift through large amounts of data. That's the other thing that's happened these in the past few years. Is this more data available? Because everybody wants to be data driven. But you know, the techniques and the understanding of really the math problem that he applied to the state of that is so rare. And so industry innovation gets lost, lost out, And, um, and the prices like ours that want to move faster because attacks are not slowing down. That wanna move faster. We are left grappling of the straw. So you buy commodities off where you buy, you get really anybody that looks like an export. And not everyone is so I think there is, ah, a pipeline problem. And ah supplication problem. In many visa that manifests because we haven't really created that awareness and that by playing off math experts who truly can understand and make sense of the needle. So
Okay, so if Marinol spoke in the other room about sort of the current data in Boston, which I think is reflective of national data around like 1/3 of students being proficient in mathematics by eighth grade. So we know that college and career readiness really require students toe have be ableto, you know, reason and problems off on very high levels and mathematics. The foundation's air starting, Um, and I'm working in an elementary school, right? So early childhood all the way up. And a lot of students come in at 345 years old, already having ideas about themselves as mathematicians and learners and thinkers and what it means to be good at math and what it means to not be how quickly you get the right answer and how many right answers you can get over and over and over are sort of like what a lot of Children in American schools equate with excellent mathematician, and a lot of that is grounded in or sort of conceptual understanding of what you're doing and why. And a lot of short cuts. Um, and so kids burn out real quick, eh? So by the time they get to eighth grade, when the concepts get harder, Um, yeah, they have internalized that they're bad at math on dhe. Uh, that has terrible implications for college and career future. Andi Think the worst implications for students who are already marginalized because of race because of socio economics, poverty, whatever other barriers they may be experiencing and life. So,
I mean, maybe just add to that the alternative to that approach that being good at math is a person who, like quickly comes up with the right answer is being good at math is the person who sticks with it, who perseveres, who struggles. There's there, you know. And this is the case in. I think if you study math, learning across the world in other countries, you know what is thought of as being good at math is like being at the board, struggling really hard with something not, you know, getting the right answer really quickly. So some of these issues is Julie points are very much like identity issues. How do we have. You think about math in a way that you feel good about the struggles that you're having with math so that you feel good about continuing to persist against these puzzles and things like that, and this is probably an obvious point. But maybe just add to that, like the central importance of math, is that it is the it is the gatekeeper to all of these other stem activities. You know, in the absence of reasonably firm understanding of algebra, one like it's hard to do biology, chemistry and physics and computer science and all of these other subjects. Some math really is central to all of the kinds of stem warning that we want students to be able to dio just
want to jump in with a couple of comments toe couldn't agree more. I think I just found the coming that you were making earlier. I think as a general rule we are. We are very quick to judge toe. Let us that there is a sense of instant gratification with this, you know, and I think we tend to reward very quickly in the very early stages of childhood. So you figured out Yeah, you saw you recognize do That's awesome. So you get an award and then so So it gets I think that the jump So there isn't enough off a struggle when they're very young. Win some of the habits that formed Andi. I think when you switch to something like a middle school, when the curriculum certainly just which is one level up, then it starts to become a there, something that you know. Either you get that in a second all you don't and the people that don't the kids that don't think they automatically exclude themselves out of this isn't for me. I'm for something else. The second thing that you said was, you know, there is so much to be said for productive struggle and you don't see enough of that in the industry. A swell, you know, not. Do not tow characterize a particular generation or something. You see a certain group off individuals, even in the industry in jobs, get very frustrated with themselves if they don't have the answer or they don't have the algorithm figured out. The heuristic, written down in a day out in a couple of days and most often recently We recently stated that you have to respect the problem. If the problem was something that everybody solved in a couple of days, then you know we wouldn't need you. We wouldn't need so money off us. So there isn't that enough off that it's It's almost like because again, things like social media and everything else make it sound so easy. There isn't enough respect given to patience, perseverance,
right? And it gets to some more of that a CZ. We talk about some of the solution to this problem. So thank you, partner, for flashing forward to that. Gonna go back to my contact center role for a minute and just to provide a little bit of data as we move here serving the way in talked about stem jobs in terms of where they're headed. Right. And we all know this intuitively are based on our scan of the landscape. But we know ah, that stem jobs are not only increasing in number but in share of employment opportunities. Right. So there is more and more opportunities in the range of fields that we categorize a stem, but we have this. What you might not know is it might be less clear is just how very few young people are being prepared for these careers through their post secondary experiences. So you see, from about 2.8 million high school grads in 2005 you had 166,000 graduates with with JEM Majors, and so that's national data from a couple of years ago. But it really gives you a sense of how leaky this pipeline is and how many places students can step off of it. And and we know that the current state in the Commonwealth here is not that different. Ah, and in fact, in locally the Gap is, uh, is a cute in that stem jobs here growing two times the rate of other jobs in Massachusetts. As we look forward. And as we've talked about one out of three students in Boston, which is our focus, it investors. Julie's focused in a micro level in a school. But it's true in all of our communities, particularly with students of color and and lower it socioeconomic status students. But Massachusetts, who's like top in the country in terms of our educational attainment on Lee, half of students in the state are proficient by eighth grade. So it is a problem that is acute when we think about issues of equity. But it is true across the board. Um, and this just gives you a bit of a sense of how that plays out currently in the workplace that Latin, black and Latin ex, uh, people make up about 13% of the stem workforce. And that's in contrast to the city like Boston, where students of color black and Latin ex students make up about 3/4 of the student body on. And then when it comes to women, about 1/4 of the stem workforce are women. On DSO. It crosses both both gender and race, and and then you add socio economic status in there. We're looking at equity and opportunities to access family sustaining wages. It's a it's a significant issue. So it seems that employers are struggling to really hire that diverse workforce in the stem fields. And, you know, we see this math issue and you all have talked about it being the possibility for unlocking opportunities for these under represented demographics of women and black and, uh, that next young people Aparna as an employer and a woman of color in the tech sector, Can you think? What
do you think
about this issue and how it, uh, could potentially level the playing field? And how so
the diversity that exists or the lack of diversity that exists in in an average workplace is alarming. And in fact, the what's more alarming is in as a natural trends, you expect that the gap is getting closed. In fact, the gap is widening and the gap by the gap I mean the gap between the average white male, um, and everybody else. So in in the 80 of technology and in high tech and insecurity especially, I think that ihsaa strong sense of deterrence that Ah, lot of people rule out these jobs because they, they they seem to complex. Maybe maybe media and popular culture make them thio too exotic. You know, I'm not sure what it is. The pipeline that comes in to us. You know, we're always looking for entry level grads or a variety of experience, not just someone who has a PhD in applied math, replied computer science, but really any variety. The pipeline is very very dry, So this topic hits very close to home. When you talk about closing the gap, I think that this this a few things you know as employers were very conscious that most employers Trenton to put in a job description that entire wish list. So if I actually found everyone that had everything on every job description, I I'm sure I'd have a collection of unicorns, you know, we're looking for We are very conservative. We look for we put everything on the job. Those job descriptions and the data shows that women of color and minorities tend to look attend to exclude themselves if they don't fit at least 90% off those criteria. So as a prospective employee, I my my dress situation would be Don't don't don't know that firstly, whereas, you know, theat bridge white male, for example, you know, allows themselves to apply for a position if they're 70% there. So my and my suggestion is, you know, look at yourself, love with more generous ice kind, arise, and then look at what the descriptions are in most of the Arab world places what they're looking for. His propensity to solve problems you know, proof that you've solved these problems in the past would be great. But if you're able to prove that you're actually interested in solving, you're gonna be committed worker, no matter what the job description says, it sticks. Now, with respect to Matt itself. I talked a little bit about the gap. You know, literally, if I had another to say something like another, uh, twice as many other scientists as I would Arkham, I would probably doubled their profits, you know, and security business off those of you who don't know and shameless plug. You know, we've grown 28% year over year for the last eight years. Unheard often, industry. We had the largest
cloud security business in the world. And I'm and I
don't think they have scratched at the surface simply because we just don't have the talent. And when I look for now, when we're looking for the folks that can close the gap most often, it's like, Can this person think through a problem? Can they actually solve it again? There? Will they have patients? I don't even care if you don't have programming skills. So So that's you know, I think in terms of closing the gap, it will be the owners has to be on multiple levels, bonuses on the industry to constant constantly make sure that we had more approachable. And we demystify what we're looking for Onus on. Okay, I s I I guess the support system at large is to encourage people who kind of sort of meet those requirements to Gordon apply and education to encourage that pipeline To say that it's okay if you don't you don't solve it as long as you know what the problem is and you're willing to pay to to take the time, just that teaching those skills off the journey is worth it. I think those are some of the things that I can think of Off the top of my
head is all that. It's great. We're gonna go back to the front end of that pipeline and talk a little bit about some of the markers. And Julie pointed to this in some of her comments, but they're these data points that are less familiar, even as we entered into this math work. And one the one in sort of the front end here when you have a four or five year old. What we have learned through the research is math and their students. Early numeracy skills is the strongest predictor of long term success, right? So we think a lot about reading in this country, and it's a lot of focus on literacy, just course, incredibly important. But in fact, math is the strongest predictor of long term success. And so getting those early foundations before and in those first moments in school matters a lot in third grade in this country, in our current construct, really bridges from the simple computation that sort of
two and then two plus two
to the really, really the conceptual understanding and more complex work as a fractions. And that's a It's a point that's one of those first, like maker breakpoints. And then, as we've talked about in eighth grade, we know this is a proven gatekeeper to those higher level courses that are important to life outcomes, which we'll talk about in a minute because what we also know what that that end piece students are leaving Secondary school math achievement predicts future earnings to the degree that, um, it's it has been the highest predictor of long term outcomes. This chart tells you that the predicted increase in the percent of earnings from an additional math class is quite strong. And so, for example, if you take calculus, you'll see almost 13% increase in earnings versus if you stopped it. Algebra and geometry, it's just an additional 5%. So the correlation here is strong. Some of this is about additional education, but some of it is about purely about those math skills. And what we know is that talked about proficiency for those young people in communities that have, uh, are more high poverty neighborhoods is also an issue of access right in some of that's about preparedness. And some of that's about resource is so that schools and high poverty communities are less likely to even offer calculus and physics as opportunities for their students s O that both sides of those equations are things that we need to tackle. So,
that, um, you know, given this predictive nature of math and math education, um, across the Board of college completion and earnings and success in life just love Julie for you to talk about as an education hindered school leader. Like why, as moving the needle on this issue, Ben so hard, Like what makes it so hard as an educator? And what is it about teaching and learning in math that's been particularly challenging?
Sure. So just sort of going back to the conversation about the gap, which you talk a lot about an education in this country. The problem is not has never been, and it never will be. The Children, Children, all Children are intellectuals. All Children come to school as sense makers as problem solvers as thinkers, like they have natural abilities. How many of you have young Children who picked up your smartphone on your iPad and figured out things that, like you don't even know how to do right on guy watch kids? Problem solved, not
ness of the problems I want them to be solving, Um, but like very
intuitively from the moment they enter the doors of school and and so if the problem is not the Children than the really hard question becomes like, whose problem is it? And in schools, it's that we have to sort of turn the mirror on ourselves as educators and us really hard questions about our beliefs about who's in front of us. Um, about our own content. Knowledge About what? Excellent mathematical thinking. You talked about productive struggle. You talked about perseverance. What does it mean to put ah worthy task? What is a worthy task even look like? And what does it mean to put one in front of Children and and create the space necessary for them to show you how they can sense
as opposed to, like, sort of carrying them along the way at the cost of them actually ever doing any real thinking? Um And then, like, what is it looking to train teachers? Really? Ideally, if this was modeled in their own educational experiences, I think that would sort of come into the classroom. But it certainly wasn't in mind. It was the procedure. The procedure the procedure memorized. Um, And so even in higher, higher level education, a students are being trained to be teacher sort of being trained to think about student thinking and sends making this way. Um and so like coming into an elementary school leadership position, you know, having had some of those experiences in math as a learner myself, uh, you know, we encountered that in early childhood grades. Kids could get the right answer and, um, a lot of them could, and many of them could get very quickly. But when we hit the upper grades and the concept's got more complex and there was a lot of gaps in conceptual understanding, like Why is this happening with numbers? And and the problems often required more sort of flexibility. Um, kids fell apart, um, and some kids more than others. And then the gaps just get wider and wider, and so that really it became clear that we needed support in sort of thinking differently about, ah, how we approach the content and how we structured learning so that kids could build the skills and competencies they need to be more successful. Um, and And I would say, you know, having worked in elementary schools for 20 years, most Elementary's teachers I have had intensive training and reading and literacy. Um, and there's all kinds of schools of thought on how to do that. That's always evolving and changing. It's actually like a lot of literacy and mathematics as well, right? But, um, this, like the content knowledge of elementary. I think, in particular teachers who, by the way, are often asked to teach multiple subjects with a depth and level of proficiency that is very demanding and takes. A lot of time is lacking, and that is not because of capacity. It's because of training. It's because of instruction on DSO. We've had to really invest in in all of that.
Justin, do you have thoughts on that? From your vantage point about why moving the needle has been so, so challenging and
what? Yeah, so I mean particularly elementary grades. I also I think, if you can honestly elementary school teachers, the number of them who go into among preschool teacher because they're passionate about mathematics is just fewer than the number who are passionate about kids or passionate about reading and literacy and stories and things like that. Um, so there is an enormous infrastructural challenge toe help those folks see how beautiful and powerful math is, you know, with with any of these kinds of educational problems, I think it's really important to think of them as the school's. The systems of places that do this best you have to get 100 things right, like there's more than that. Like there's not a particular thing to work on. I don't know if people saw a really important set of Boston Globe Storm. It was one story, but part of a larger thing about educational quality. French. It's about bathroom maintenance in the Boston public schools. There are a lot of kids who don't feel comfortable. Going to the bathroom is very all day at their school. Is very difficult to learn at one PM or 2 p.m. If you haven't gotten the bathroom since 8 a.m. and you know, and some of that is a matter of infrastructure and investment. I think a lot of schools in the Boston public schools are were built before the 19 forties, and so there's work, an investment to be made. You know, one of the one of the ways that we can in the long part of that is one of the ways that we could improve math outcomes in schools is having a state in a city that was committed to having buildings in which people felt good about going there and good about learning, and so there's lots of stuff that you know, and that's just like one of those 100 things. I think teacher training is an enormously important part of that. I think that curriculum that we choose for students who uses an enormously part of that I mean, the exciting thing about there being, you know, 100 things to work on to get better is it really gives all of us an opportunity to find one of those things that we really want to be passionate about, committed to contribute. That investors was incredibly important work, helping people in and around Boston figure out howto be connected toe the Boston public schools, you know, in part by financial support, but in lots of other ways as well.
So before we talk a little bit more about some of the ways, uh, a TTE this, uh, this panel trying to tackle these issues that love to posit, see if there are questions.
So somebody at some point determined that tell us, was the topless on that morning period through high school? I'm not sure. When that was determined. Her why was determined? What we talked about is having the time to struggle with match math curriculum. As I see, it has people moving at a pretty rapid pace. Thio get up to and through calculus by 12th grade. I'm not even sure what the question is so much as how did give people both the space and create the expectation and perhaps the acknowledgment that competency has been achieved in a certain area so that you can move on but that you're given credit for that competency and you have a capacity to move beyond. Talentless is ready for it.
I am not any educational expert. It all. But I have two kids at home, so I can I did talk to the experts before I can came in. So I think this this, uh, that's a very interesting point you raised. By the way. Um, I think most schools are given an impossible mandate. The impossible mandate is to get kids ready in a multitude of topics. By the 10 day they felt great. So you know you have to have enough to know about biology. You have to have enough to know what, Matt So the kids can make an intelligent choices about where they want to go beyond 18 on DDE That so that's the that's your time. That's your time box. And then you have to cram a bunch of stuff in S O. So a lot of this does not allow four extra, you know, for someone to marinate a little bit if they wanted to. So, you know, I think the answer truly is that is 18. What is the sense in 18 you know off. Why? Why must be Why must we block our kids from learning? Just because a high school diploma requires for you to be, you know? So I think what that requires is a major reform and how we think of what education really means. And and maybe for schools to recognize early on, some sort of propensity for a particular topic and encourage them encourage those particular students. And again we go back to where Julie was talking about is that requires an extraordinary skill. Or maybe Justin was talking about is it requires our 100 points killed to understand what it is or to take student recognize and maybe interest and then encourage that. So, um you know, and you know, I think we tend to undersell the year older parents and the ecosystem around. The kids can play as well. I think more and more parents, either if they understand propensity, there are tools available if want to chose to take them on. That's my perspective,
Um, so a couple of things that we've been working with him were really fortunate. I actually see one of our coaches in the back. We have some coaches from investors that are doing worth work with our math teachers, and I think in the same way that we want Children to see themselves intellectuals, we want teachers to feel that they're treated like intellectuals and that we believe that they are intellectuals and to give them space in time to grapple and to struggle and to take risks and to make mistakes. That that's yes, test scores are out there, but like that's like when that real learning and thinking happens, it is reflected in the classroom. When they love the content and understand it deeply, it will. It will translate for for students. So I think putting putting tasks in front of kids that are worthy of spending time on when they have some real world relevancy. Um, when they're they're they're complex enough that like it's impossible to get the answer immediately. Very early on. I mean, I know we talked about the shift in third grade, but young kids can persevere if there's something that they want to persevere in, right. I think we can agree to this, Um and so like learning how to critically consume the curriculum and understand sort of the thinking demands of what you're putting in front of kids and how you foster climates and cultures that, like, really value thinking and risk taking and like even highlighting beautiful mistakes, right? And like when that becomes a a narrative of the learning environment of the school, um, I think that it can It can have a profound shift over time. Um and I I care much less about where we are in the pacing calendar. Frankly, um, though we do need to cover content. Um, we can't spend all your infractions, but I think like the depth and quality is like, really, where where we get amazing thinking and that's that's what school should be about.
And there's there's lots of good debates about whether or not we have the right curriculum to support depth, um, and coverage you know, the, uh uh, Freakonomics podcasts at a great episode recently about calculus Since the end point of the math curriculum, it's worth going to listen to that. One of the cases against it is something along the lines of, like, statistics and probability for the vast majority of people just infinitely more useful. Um, and to have that be an end point would be like, like a much more rewarding thing. You know, if you think if you think about what you know, like, how many people in the world actually need statistics or calculus jobs like maybe it's kind of low, like how many people like, need calculus or statistics to be a good citizen? You're like, Oh, I would really like citizens to know something about statistics that would help us an awful lot. Um, So, um, but, you know, one of things, it turns out, is like the ship of the American curriculum is, like, very large and hard to move. Um, so you have. I mean, not just but not because I mean, it's like a little bit hard to print new textbooks or come up with sensible ways of teaching you things. But you know, there there three and 1/2 1,000,000 k 12 teachers in the country. Um, and a substantial portion of those I don't want to 2.4 million have have some responsibility for the teaching of math and having them all reorient kind of in mid flight. That za lot to change when you start thinking about like, oh, you know, if we want If we wanted to know if we wanted to help you know, all of the teachers currently in a state to be better at math and I don't know, we wanted to have each of them, you know, take to college classes worth of learning on it or something like that. Oh, that would be, you know, tens or hundreds of millions of dollars that we're not spending right now. And so those were some of the things that I mean when one of the one of the cases to make for the curriculum we have right now is that, like people have been working on for a long time, eh? So there's there's sort of interesting debates that are in there,
and I think that's one of the purposes of these conversations, right? is that they're there less conversation about what you know. Should it be statistics? Should it be calculus? That sort of like putting math into that conversation matters. It's It's a big ship to turn, but you can't do it without those kind of community conversations that help do that.
So you're talking about the traditional school. You see a role for absolute programs programs as part of this. This ship that happened, or is it just country?
So the issue with out of school in Richmond opportunities is that they are disproportionately available to affluent kids. If you look at the 19 seventies, the gap between the top quartile of orders, spending on enrichment programs and the bottom quartile of earners spending on Richmond was actually pretty close. And over the last 30 years, it is just exploded into a yawning gap between what the nation's most affluent families spending their kids. So if there was a way to create an ecosystem of after school learning that was equitably available to all kids everywhere, then of course it makes tons of sense to make their beam or math available for kids everywhere they go, sort of focusing on that as a strategy in advance of of, of dealing with those broader ecosystem. I mean, one issue is like, at least in theory, we have a belief in this country that all kids deserve a right to an equitable in school education, and we totally fall down on that belief. But we don't even really have a belief that all kids deserve equitable access to museums and after school programs and things like that. We don't have a belief in an equitable ecology of learning around kids, but we should. That would be a great thing for us and citizens. Toe advocate for um, there's a wonderful, uh Um, researcher Nicole Pinkard at Chicago Who has this line would like you can you can on Lee. You could only want to be what you see. Um, and so part of what she has done is the sort of community mapping exercises like she mapped the number of basketball courts in the South side of Chicago versus the number of sort of camp computer labs of maker spaces. There's way more basketball courts in the South side of Chicago than there are computer clubs and maker spaces like we want kids to aspire to those kinds of opportunity. I have to be places around where they could go and see these things happening. And I'm sure if we did the same exercise in Boston, find that the place where you could see that opportunity are concentrated in some parts of the city and not nearly as available in others.
And I would just add to that, um that while you're right on the system, peace, there's a belief. But we're far from that, that aspiration around equity, and that's what drives us that investors. But there are a number of important examples of folks that are trying to get at that other 80% of time that students spend in their waking hours. One of them are partner, it remembers, is here from the calculus project to just work in the summer and after school. Trying to prepare students to get to those places were here in Cambridge. So the work of Bob Moses and the Young People's Project in Algebra Project or other examples that that are not at the system level and your gap around Bob buttons work and so forth is right on the money. But there are there are bright spots that we can look Thio because it has to be, uh, an ecosystem approach. So I'm gonna have some more time for questions at the end, But I want to get Thio sharing some of the other ways that we're going about. This highlighted a couple of those out of school time programs and that tutoring and additional support there are many ways to support those closing of those gaps. The way I know we had investors and Justin and his teaching system, this work is looking at is really around the leverage point of teachers and what's possible when you have a focus on those individuals who have the greatest impact on student outcomes. S. O. That has been the driver of our work investors that having an adaptive teacher with with skills and knowledge and pedagogy and even thinking about the conversation we've had in this room, which I think is new to many people, that math should be not about the right answer or the algorithm, but about things like productive struggle and problem solving perseverance like that's groundbreaking and so to be able to bring that kind of thinking to teachers toe have them do math, understand math in a deeper way, uh, and be able to bring that to their students, Which gets you. It's, um some scale potentially is certainly what's driven some of the work that we do. This is, ah, visual. I think there's some papers in the back. You could take a little bit hard to read from here. But what it focuses on this sort of citywide and broader here in Cambridge and beyond, Advocates for Master really building a community of folks who care about this issue and are advancing it. Two. Close goat skill and knowledge gaps on the part of students of students, often in a classroom. Julie can tell you this. She lives it. Every day you'll have 1/5 grade classroom, and you'll have students who are in first grade level in math and students of the seventh grade level. And how do you provide tools to two teachers to be able to meet students where they are and bring them along? That has the kind of depth in facility in fidelity around the conceptual knowledge they need and then really working with those teachers around, deepening their their instruction and We've been doing this work in Boston and 19 schools with about 150 teachers impacting almost 4000 students have some really encouraging results in terms of the additional math learning that students are demonstrating beyond the year you'd expect in any in any one fourth grade year, Um, and, uh, hearing from teachers about the change that has been possible. So this sort of human capital approach on is the core of our strategy. And I'd love Julie just to talk a little bit about you know, what she's seen over the over the time that she has been focusing on this issue of math, which is not all that common in our 125 buildings in Boston. And I think in the buildings across Massachusetts. So
actually, I started my day yesterday at 7 a.m. With my faculty with the professional development before school, um, and doing doing math. So I think one thing that's been really powerful in the work with investors is like part of like knowing when an excellent task looks like and think thinking about the thinking demands you're putting in front of kids is actually experiencing that so that yourself is an adult, Um, and actually going through that process and then thinking about all the misconceptions that students might grapple with along the way and what you're gonna do when you encounter those. Um, and so a lot of the coaching that my teachers have experience and development that they've experienced through their work with the team and investors has been doing exactly that. So the quality of adult learning experiences that adults engage in directly impacts the way in which they facilitate thinking in the classroom. And I think that's been modeled from start to finish. Um, and I think something
adaptive that I saw.
Um, we talked about last year when you all came to visit the Mendel Was that, like a lot of traditional curriculum and sort of pedagogical approach is is the teacher is the content expert, and so they're going to show the student the strategy or the concept that they want them to replicate, right? And then the students are gonna do it with you, and then the students are gonna do it independently, and then more because they're going to share. We call that I do. We do. You d'oh! And so sort of thinking differently about that. That, like if there's a trust and belief that Children are sends, makers are problem solvers. Walker, our collaborators that if you put a worthy task out in front of kids that all kids bring something to that problem, right, they haven't entry point to that problem ether in the first grade level or they're at 1/7 grade level. You have to think about that access point. But there is a way in, um, and that if you really know the content well and you really know what misconceptions you wanna highlight or what you want to illuminate, then in the closing of the lesson, you can be really strategic and who you call on, and students can make connections from and with each other and build upon each other's ideas. And that and that sort of helps to teach and reinforce the concepts. And it's frankly, way more interesting to Children to hear from each other than to hear from you. So I think those are some some really great, like adaptive shifts I have seen happening in terms of the pedagogical approach, and we do instructional rounds of my building, which means we visit classrooms. And so when my upper element, my lower elementary teachers, started to walk into my upper elementary costumes where the coaching was happening and see students having seminars and discussions about their thinking and pushing each other's ideas and sort of a teacher in front of the room a lot less in doing that, um, or questioning and coaching as opposed to, like, sort of directing and modeling. They were frankly blown away and then almost really angry that they didn't have. Sorry they didn't. They didn't have access to that kind of coaching and thinking. And so now we're trying to roll that out across the whole school.
Justin, I'd love to talk for you to talk about your work in the M I T Systems Lab Teaching Systems lab and what that looks like, right? These were different approaches to getting to that
core human capital problem. One of
them pretty people intensive and the other one will hear more about
Yeah, Yeah, ours is still people intensive, but, you know, I think what Julie describe two components that are pretty well established in research to help math teachers get better at teaching math and the first is doing more math, especially amongst elementary teachers, who may not have much experience and then some form of individualized coaching. Those were sort of two of the things that were pretty sure that have done well. Help people get better at math teaching, um, one of so and we're at M I T. And so were often trying to think like, Well, what's another thing that we could do that would be helpful, especially along the lines of the spirit of, you know, getting 100 things right to solve a problem? Um, so one of our observations is that when teachers learn they have insufficient opportunities to practice eso when teachers learn, they listen to people talk about teaching, and sometimes they talk with each other about teaching, and every once in a while they say what they would do if they were teaching. But actually very rarely do teaching. Um, this is in contrast to help people in other helping professions learn. So if you were to follow social workers as they learn to be, social workers are like therapy, sizing each other constantly. It's just sort of therapy izing back and forth. Being therapy eyes sort of all day long, not talking abstractly about therapy but doing it. Teachers have less of that opportunity. They sort of go into classrooms or practical classrooms. They're actually teach, but they very rarely have these sort of safer, low stakes ways to practice what they're doing. So that's what we're trying to generate in our work. What it looked like to create a series of practice space is for us, these air sort of inspired by games and simulations that would let teachers rehearsed for and reflect on important decisions and teaching. So one of the things, if you want to elicit the kind of rich conversations that Julie's talking about that you have to be able to do is you have to be able to come up with a really good questions on the fly. You have to be ableto like have a set of strategies that you can go to. And then, as students are saying, different kinds of things sort of respond to those strategies. Well, if you like, talk about those strategies and then you send people in costumes t do them. Kids do not like immediately make it easy for you to execute those strategies they, like, clam up or they say weird things or other kind of stuff like that. And so what we want to try to create And the other thing is like, you've only got 47 minutes that you've devoted to math. And so things aren't going that well in the first, Like, you know, 100 and 40 seconds or something like that. You are. Maybe I should just go back to telling them, and I should just go back to high. We do. We do. You do? Um, so we're trying to create these learning environments in which you could take a set of discreet important skills and practice them over and over again and safe constructively. So we have a group of 20 math teachers. 3rd 3 great teachers from throughout the city of Boston who are working on co constructing these practice spaces with us. Um, in the fall, we've been working with a tool he developed called eliciting Lerner Knowledge, which is a sort of paired, synchronous chat based game. So one teacher plays the role of a teacher on dhe, has a card that tells them what they're trying to figure out about what a student knows. Another teacher plays a role student, has a little card that says what it is that they do know about a topic which is incomplete in some kind of way. On down, they spend seven minutes and chat based interface practicing, asking questions, eso in afternoon. We can have people do this. 34567 times like they can sort of do a bunch of reps of question asking, practicing. They have a transcript that gets generated afterwards, and they can go through and be like, You
see these things that sort of look like questions. They're not actually questions.
They're like telling people things on. Do you see these things that are questions that are like eliciting and probing and getting different, you know, And also we, you know, we can in the midst of these rounds, we can show you, you know, here's a strategy that's called re voicing. This is when you just, like, say what the person said and asked them if you got it right, that's a strategy can use. Um, go ahead and try that in your in your chat practice and uh, we don't know whether or not this element of of intensive practice is gonna help add to learning more mouth bath and coaching, but that's the kind of thing we're working on. We have another one that we're gonna be doing with folks this spring that's called teacher moments. It's a sort of a digital clinical simulation tool, so it's something meant to be played on a handheld device by yourself. So we're basically pull out your phone and you would be immersed in these little vignettes of classroom life. S O. You know, you would pose a question, and then a kid kind of pops up and says, like, Here's here's what I would say in response to that thing and then a microphone icon pops up. Then you have to say what you would say to the kid in that moment and try to get you to practice responding toe miss common misconceptions or 30 circumstances that come up with those kinds of things over time, we want to sort of build more tools that have the interface sort of automatically provides some feedback. Go, Julie, You sounded a little hesitant with that one, like you want to try that again here. 37 starters that you might use in this particular scenario to help you out. But this this notion of trying to make teacher learning more practice full is something that we're working on on DNA, you know, trying to do in their way that it's not. We sit around in our offices in at M I T and think about what would be helpful and then ship it out to other people to test but to really sort of co designed them with teachers in the Boston public schools understand their local contacts much better than we do to be ableto co designed together with this practice. Full approach.
Michael, like you have time for one or
two more questions, questions out. So answer the question Julian and a burner, but give you a sort of ah different spin. If you choose eso, it's choose your own adventure. You pointed to Justin like something's to be hopeful about, and you said, like, here's a place we've made progress, like Are there things that you see that are are hopeful from your vantage points as we close out,
I think that
one thing that was really exciting for me was, um not just like seeing the the way in which students were engaging in leaning into sort of the grappling and in math class. But, like actually, when you sort of talk to them outside of math the way that they talked about math class, um, Children who like previously I'm not even kidding like throwing chairs across the room, right? Like they were that disgruntled with the concept of engaging in math. Um, like, really spoke positively of the subject and more importantly, of themselves in it and sort of, Ah, there's there's there's stories about So there's the tale of two math students and it's the same student. It's just a different teacher and a different learning experience. And on dhe how that profoundly changed the way the child saw themselves. So for me, I think you know, um, there's many symptoms of that. But like seeing and hearing kids talk about themselves as mathematicians and since makers and problem solvers and aspiring to careers in fields beyond what they may have previously already talking about that with excitement and interest and enthusiasm, I can't wait for math class in a couple of years is, like pretty pretty profound for me.
Only leave you with three thoughts just falling upon what Justin said. Ah, productive struggle that being patient is not a nice to have an industry. It's it's truly determines if you actually progress. If you actually sometimes hold on to a job or not, because the easy problems for anyone that's under the misconception, the easy problems that mostly solved. You know, large enterprises are working on the very complex once, and that's really the only place where they can actually make progress. Ah, so that's one thing is that we must, as a society, just reward that. Although, you know, for the kids that actually don't have to do the have the productive struggle, you don't want to shortchange them off recognition. But I think there's some off the fact that we're recognizing that here and across the industry, you know, that's the only thing that gets rewarded is something that we should we should reinstate. Reinforce this second thought that I will have everyone think through is you know, it does not matter in the industry. It does not matter what kind of sick idiot this is. So I have a good friend of mine who's been recently trying to recruit me. This person is at Broad Institute they're working on. I think they're calling the one million uh, Jean Genome Project. Basically the project. This person has three medical degrees from the top school to the world stand for Yale and Harvard. And this person said, Ah ah, reputable, veritable name in the industry in the medical industry. And they're working on making the cardiology especially and medicine much more intelligent. What they told me was which was shocking, was like was that most of modern medicine, especially cardiology, is really based on four indicators for data points. We have cavities, your blood pressure and these things. And based on that literally everything that your your, uh doctor advises you is it goes from there. What they're working on is to map data from literally everything else. From from what you do on a day to day basis, onto something like, you know, how you think have you process for multiple years. So they're collecting data from a 1,000,000 individuals across America. They have something like 500,000. They're collecting more data, and that hope is that science truly will advance only when they understand that data and distill so. The myth that you know only in a esoteric era career depends on Matt needs to be needs to be thrown out. Even your most relatable careers have a strong math competent. The when you talk about something that do to feel good about this is finally hitting most organizations and in many ways, industry where it hurts. So most companies that have this kind of talent are able to make progress, and those those are don't are not so a CZ. Always the industry is usually slightly late, you know, late to go into the game, but it is starting to hit. So more and more. I see, even within my organization and other organizations, they're willing to participate in programs that talk about early learning. Participate in something that helps you know early schools and surly school education. Arkham I, for example, participates and girls so called we. We have a great emphasis on getting kids high as youngest middle and high school into programming. So my request to educators and in folks in that area is to enlist our industry professionals because this isn't a nice to have. This isn't something that we get credit for. Community service. This is survival for the industry as well. So, um, and I because of that, I see a lot of hope. You know, I started to be cynical, but I think because it's finally hitting the point where it hurts, I see this. They'll probably be movement. Well, please
join me in thanking all three of our Panelists
are terrific. No,
as you all talked about, part of tonight was really this piece of raising awareness and really thinking about this issue and getting more people to think about the issue, and we'd we'd welcome and investors I know Justin and and Julian Aparna would welcome conversations about our individual approaches to this work. There's some materials at the back. Please feel free to take them. But please feel free to grab any one of us to chat a little bit more of this, but about this. But I'm I'm glad you're all here. I hope you bring this conversation home about this issue and appreciated spending this hour
with all of you. Thank you. And thank you again. Three of
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