Math, Newspapers and Schools for Profit

Math

I am really going to try hard to not have this sound like a product review.  I am probably going to fail because…well it is a product review. The intent is to give my son’s teacher a look at Splash Math and also a way for her to share out to other teachers if she likes it rather than forwarding an email.  

Splash Math is a neat little program we’ve used on the occasion that uses games to teach math concepts.  Yes, you read that right, it uses games to teach math concepts, a brilliant idea right? Don’t tell my son that, he’ll hate video games forever if he thought they taught him anything.

I believe that there are a few of these on the market so if you’ve got a favourite and would like to share, please let me know.  The things that I liked about this one:

  • It gamified learning 
  • The reporting/ notification gave me a high level of what problem areas were
  • It provided stats on practice time

It has also become a bit of a gold standard for other applications I’ve looked into for learning such as duolingo schools and Grammarly.  These programs are at various levels of maturity with respect to their reporting and gamification.  Also, if you use these tools remember it’s a good way to keep an eye on progress but it’s not a substitute for sitting down with them and working on things together.  It just gives you the opportunity to reserve the “fun” problems together.  

Newspapers

A real-world example of the fun problems would be like solving for X when you need to walk your son through how many subscriptions of the school newspaper he needs to sell to pay the employees he’s already hired so he doesn’t run out of allowance money before he can get the newspaper off the ground.  Yes, this actually happened last year, however, the school year ended before we could get too far into it.  

I have huge hopes that this year will be the year and then we can continue the conversation about the cost of supplies when their “angel funding” ends.  He’s already talking about feeding the money back into the school after this, what an amazing heart. 

Schools for Profit

The newspaper idea was a great one and I liked how he wanted to feed the money back into the school, brilliant.  This is a great idea that a colleague (thanks Derar!) posted recently – https://codifyacademy.org/.  They launched their first course which sold out in 1h!  C’est incroyable!

The fine print for that is the following:

  • The course was listed for $149 crossed out and then for free
  • The price point seems high but maybe $20-$30 per child would work
    • I have an entirely different rant on this related to how we value education…
    • I’ll instead leave you with food for thought and since the course above was sponsored by Amazon and was for free I will use them as an example – https://reinvent.awsevents.com/
    • There are a number of fields that offer expensive training courses like this which proves that there is a market for education…maybe we need to focus more on the “little people” that are going to change the world someday?
    • Okay, I am really done ranting now…
  • There are a number of organizations that provide courses like this for free, for example, https://code.org (and me of course, lol)

Moving beyond the fine print and if you can consider that some parents are also inclined to spend money on tutoring this might start to make sense as a way to generate revenue if we started hosting these events in local schools.  This would provide income for schools that are normally challenged to find fundraising ideas and also provide a direct improvement to the school in terms of dollars and education. I work with a great bunch of people that would love an opportunity to volunteer with schools and this would be a great project to collaborate on.

I know there are probably a lot of barriers people can think about why this wouldn’t work, some of the issues I can see with the experience I have had:

  • School districts are not currently staffed to coordinate this (working for change here!)
  • The programs would need to be available to everyone
    • One model that seems to work is using a suggested donation
    • Here is an example where I’ve seen this work https://opendooryoga.bc.ca/
  • Why would people pay for something that is available for free
    • We see people paying for tutoring with their child because instruction from a 3rd party is sometimes easier, removing the parent/ child dynamic can also remove any power dynamic that might impact learning
    • Spending money on something typically increases commitment

I’m going to wrap it up there for now because I am getting a bit excited and my mind is scattering trying to figure out all the details of how this would work.  I’d also like to pause and say that there have been a lot of people that I’ve had conversations with that have either knowingly or unknowingly helped with this idea.  Thank you for taking the time to talk to me and listen to my sometimes scattered thoughts.  Thank you.

References

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