New York, The US, 2013. Conrad Wolfram, CBM Summit 2013 hosted at UNICEF. Photo Credit: Daria Ng
New York, The US, 2013. Conrad Wolfram, CBM Summit 2013 hosted at UNICEF. Photo Credit: Daria Ng

The 2013 Computer Based Math (CBM) Summit hosted at UNICEF this past November was a success. I shall elaborate. At the core, CBM is about refocusing math toward relevant and conceptually interesting topics. The technology that is involved is a means for realizing this fundamental idea.

CBM brought together a diverse mix of experts from all over the world—spanning from India, Eastern Europe to Central America. The gathering inspired partnership and camaraderie among computer scientists, education specialists, policy makers, change makers, teachers, children, education innovators, mathematicians, and many more.

One of our favorite speakers was Jo Boaler—a British education author, and Professor of Mathematics Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Jo’s work brings the child’s voice to life to the forefront of how we teach math. She says that “speed doesn’t matter, and there’s no such thing as a “math person”. Rather, the Common Core’s approach to the discipline could correct these misperceptions. http://joboaler.com/

New York, The US, 2013. Chris Fabian, CBM Summit 2013 hosted at UNICEF. Photo Credit: Daria Ng
New York, The US, 2013. Chris Fabian, CBM Summit 2013 hosted at UNICEF. Photo Credit: Daria Ng

Conversations and debates centered around the following question, “How can we improve math education so that children are better equipped with 21st century skills?”

21st century skills such as:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Agility and adaptability
  • Initiative and entrepreneurialism
  • Effective communication
  • Accessing and analyzing information
  • Curiosity and imagination

In order to equip children with 21st century skills math must be taught in a more conceptual and multi-dimensional way. Some notable learnings are that when children believe they are good at math their achievement shifts dramatically. Innovations in education must be designed with flexibility in mind so that all actors, processes, and tools can change with change for better learning outcomes.

Angela Bond
Innovation in Education Lead, Innovation Unit, UNICEF NYHQ
abond(at)unicef.org

Related reading:

UNICEF and computerbasedmath.org announce major summit to reconceptualize math education worldwide

Narrative of a partnership: Open source hardware in Uganda

The “SMOOC” and the Digital Drum: Radical innovations in learning

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