WHAT IS MATH UNBOUNDED?
We are all born curious. As babies we put things in our mouth to learn about them. We squeezed things, looked, and wondered. As we grew, we invented entire worlds in our imaginations, traveling to distant galaxies, being doctors, and inventing playacted problems to solve. Humans are intrigued by patterns; we wonder about irregularities, play games, and delight in solving problems. Even as adults, we find delight in the Sudoku and Crytpoquip pages of the newspaper.
Mathematics is among the most puzzling, playful, beautiful, imaginative, productive, and surprising creations of humankind. Nevertheless, formal schooling, despite the good intentions of teachers, administrators, and policy makers around the world, has responded to testing, accountability pressures, and the need for conformity by creating regimens that “school the creativity, wonder, delight, joy, and beauty out of mathematics.” Math becomes the science of the right answer rather than the art of insightful questioning. The quick answer is the goal instead of the process of discovery and the art of posing great questions.
When was the last time you spent two hours delightfully engaged in solving a “funstrating” problem?
Math Unbounded acts on the principle that everyone, young and old, has a right to high-quality mathematical problem-solving. Further, individuals find even greater reward by solving problems collaboratively as part of problem-solving communities known as math circles. Drawing on the nearly century-old framework of math circles, Math Unbounded works in communities throughout the world to help demonstrate, start, sustain, and connect math circles for students and teachers. Math circles are what happens when mathematics professionals gather with other faculty, teachers, and students to investigate great problems.
Our joy of sharing great mathematics knows no bounds and we are humbled to have been invited to share the model of math circles with teachers and students in the U.S.A., the Navajo Nation, Guatemala, Nepal, Panama, and México. We are always looking for local champions to help start math circles and welcome your contact.
The VISION behind Math Unbounded: There are many mathematics professionals with experience working with math circles who want to share great math with others around the world. We work to identify local champions and grow new sites for math circles. Then we connect mathematicians with those sites and help provide the resources needed to do the work. Many communities are eager to establish math circles for students or teachers but need help doing so. We pledge to work to connect those sites to the expertise and support needed to help start and sustain circles until such time as those communities wish to sustain the circles on their own.
Math Unbounded is an inclusive idea and many people make the idea of sharing joyful and curious mathematics a reality. Math Unbounded connects those who believe that creative and fun mathematics knows no borders or limits.
Robert (Bob) Klein, PhD, oversees Math Unbounded and is an Associate Professor in Ohio University’s Department of Mathematics. He lives and works in Ohio’s Appalachian foothills. He is co-founder of the SouthEast Ohio Math Teachers’ Circle (for grades 3-8 teachers) and the Math League Math Circle. He also co-directs the Navajo Nation Math Circle Project. He has worked in Panamá, México, Guatemala, and Nepal and facilitated math circles in Albuquerque, Tulsa, Shreveport, Cincinnati, and beyond. Robert is thrilled to be part of the Ohio Math Teachers’ Circle Network, recognizing that the State of Ohio now has enough Math Teachers’ Circles to form a powerful network. Robert welcomes your contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.