I recently watched an interview with Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO, in which at minute 35:50, he says that with 1 trillion people, we could have 1,000 Einsteins and Mozarts. I hope Jeff Bezos will consider that the Earth already has 1,000 potential Einsteins and Mozarts and that in the right environment these children (or adults) would thrive, flower and bloom. I'm not sure how well Mozart would have fared in a school system that had to choose between music, art, and gym as "extras."
I recall the Principal of a highly successful school, where over 90% of the students were minorities, saying "We are not working magic here; we're giving the students what they need."
Many people think children in low-performing schools are incapable of learning when the more logical explanation is that they're simply not getting what they need to succeed.
When looking into what works and what doesn't for math education, I was surprised to read about programs in the US succeeding for older students, some with a history of failure in math (ST Math, the Algebra Project, WiTSI). I had never heard of them before I went looking. It's even more surprising that these programs are not more widespread and that with their demonstrated effectiveness, there would even be a question about whether a school would be willing to pay for a teacher to try them out.
In Jamaica, the situation is a bit more grave. A high-stakes Grade 6 exam for a limited set of places in the nation's best high schools has left horrifying numbers of parents worried about their children committing suicide. Most schools on the island have high failure rates for the exams needed to continue to universities or colleges. The competition is stiff and the stress on young children is real.
Jeff Bezos recently tweeted for ideas that would be "at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact."
Reggae Math Foundation's mission is to bring quality education to every child through filming and sharing effective teachers... and to provide professional development in schools with creative, dedicated instructors.
This will give our society the best chance of solving global issues in the long run and could potentially save children's lives. I don't think there is anything more urgent than that.
Dr. Linda Bailey-McWeeney is the Executive Director of Reggae Math Foundation, an economist, and an educator. She has been an Assistant Professor at Baruch College, City University of New York and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Economics at College of Staten Island, City University of New York, and Wagner College. She has a Ph.D. in Economics from Michigan State University.