Aldo talks to Conrad Wolfram about why he feels he is in a unique central position to spread the word on radically changing the way we teach and learn Mathematics.
Throughout my career as an edtech builder and working with teachers & students over the globe, I have spoken to many people who feel that things need to be done differently in Education. Some demand drastic changes while others say that small, incremental alterations will eventually lead to a new re-energised process of teaching and learning.
The people I speak to, some of them have been guests on this podcast, are often holistic thinkers and speak about overall systemic changes and new approaches to education but my next guest has good reasons to get very specific and change the way we teach and learn one subject that affects us all: Mathematics.
Conrad Wolfram has been working for decades on changing the way we teach and learn Mathematics in schools. In 2010 he founded ComputerBasedMathematics.org to end the disconnect between school mathematics and real life justifiably claiming that we should embrace computers more in the process.
In a variety of interviews & talks Wolfram advocates for us to ‘democratise experience’ by making full use of the technology tools and automated computational thinking available to us.
“Computers put great automation levels between the mechanics of math, the calculating, and what you're trying to get done, too. When the automation gets good, you can go much further by doing it on the machine with a computer than you can by hand, and the subject of the mechanics of calculating becomes a distinct subject from using, applying, or doing math.” states Wolfram in an inspiring TED talk he held back in 2010.
In his 2020 book: ‘The Math(s) Fix: An Education Blueprint for the AI Age’ Wolfram exposes why maths education is in a global crisis, and how the only fix is a fundamentally new mainstream subject.
“After more than 15 years of conceptualising the idea, 10 years of build-out and 2 years of writing and editing” Conrad Wolfram published the book in June last year.
The Math(s) Fix’ does not only identify the problem and aligning complaints, but also suggests a clear alternative outlining a four-step process that can be used across the curriculum: define the questions, abstract them to computable form, compute answers, and interpret results.
The book was very warmly received and even won an Independent Press Award in Education earlier this year.
Seemingly Conrad was born into critical, independent, abstract thinking as both his parents were writers. His mother Sybil Wolfram was a Fellow & Tutor in Philosophy at Lady Margaret Hall at the University of Oxford and his brother Stephen is a well-known physicist, mathematician and computer scientist who (among others) became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2012.
Conrad holds Masters degrees in Natural Sciences and Mathematics from Cambridge University and founded the company Wolfram Research Europe Ltd. in 1991.
Together with his brother, Conrad has also been shaping up the company Wolfram Research since 1996.
Among many other things, Conrad has led the effort within this company to move the use of its flagship product called ‘Mathematica’ from a pure computation system to a development and deployment engine.
Needless to say that for this interview I am in the company of a great mind that I am dying to pick for ideas on Maths Education Reform.
A very warm welcome to you Conrad!
You can find out more about Conrad’s book here:
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