## Sunday, March 1, 2020

### Math Class Needs A Makeover Turns Ten

Ten years ago this month, on March 6, 2010, a tall man in a maroon sweater vest gave a Ted Talk.  It clocked in at 11 minutes and 24 seconds.   Here's how he described what he did for a living:
"I sell a product to a market that doesn't want it but is forced by law to buy it.  I mean, it's just a losing proposition."
He called the talk "Math Class Needs a Makeover."  His name was Dan Meyer.  He was a high school math teacher, and he was tired of losing.

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How long does it take to change your life?  I remember exactly where I was the first time I saw it.  Sitting at my computer in Room 10A, in that elementary school somewhere off the New Jersey Turnpike, I was an unlikely math specialist with a very conflicted relationship to the subject, searching for something, anything, that might make a difference in the lives of the basic skills kids I was supposed to be helping.  What I saw took my breath away.  Here was an actual math teacher giving voice to and validating everything I felt was wrong about math instruction while showing a way forward.  It was a manifesto.  It was a challenge.  And, for me, it was nothing short of revelatory.  From there it was a few mouse clicks to his blog, which I devoured, anxiously awaiting each new post, and his "Blogulty Lounge", where I discovered the work of Andrew Stadel, Fawn Nguyen, and Michael Pershan, among others.  (I'll admit here for the first time that it was years before I got the pun: of course an online Faculty Lounge was a Blogulty Lounge.)  I began to experiment with ideas I found in this new online universe in the K-5 classrooms in my school and, in emulation, started my own blog as a way to record and reflect on that work.  How long does it take to change your life?  11 minutes and 24 seconds.

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Ten years, 33 languages, and over 2,800,000 views later, "Math Class Needs A Makeover" is as powerful and important today as it was then.  Will we ever truly be able to measure its influence?  One of the very first comments on the talk came from a 17 year old named Timo Bronseth.  He wrote:
"By the time Meyer's idea has overthrown our school system, maybe I'll be teaching it!"
Timo's now 27.  I'd like to imagine he's out there somewhere, doing a 3-act task with his class, trying to overthrow the system.