For the Love of Learning – Math Education – Epi#40

For the Love of Learning Episode 40


Show Title:

For the Love of Learning Episode 40

Let’s Talk About Math

Monday November 16, 2015  8:00 pm – 10:00 pm EST
Tuesday November 17, 2015 1:00 am – 3:00 am GMT

Special Guests:

Susan Terry
Paul Gafni
Pam Sorooshian


Why is a negative attitude towards mathematics common in our culture? Is it because math is indeed both difficult and demanding of the learner? Are lazy teachers, bad students, or the government to blame? Should educators emphasize on pedagogy and technology to make the learning simpler? Why is it important for students to work through basic math problems when we live in an era where one can turn to calculators or computer programs to do the mindless symbolic manipulations needed to get an answer? Is math even relevant anymore?

In the US most students will fail to achieve the mathematical skills necessary to pursue math centric technical careers. According to STEM education statistics, in 2013 only 36 percent of high school students were even “ready” for college level math. And the statistics further indicate that students of color and females score much lower across the board.

There certainly are problems when it comes to math education. In tonight’s episode, we will explore reasons math education is failing and what can be done about it with an incredible panel.


Bios of Tonight’s Guests:

Susan Terry

susanSusan is a graduate of Nipissing University: Bachelor of Arts, Fine Arts and Music majors, French Minor ~ Bachelor of Education – Visual Arts, Instrumental Music, International Teaching; TEFL degree; Canadore College: Developmental Social Work, Computer Technology Software; Radio & Television Broadcasting, and Early Childhood Education.

Early on, she became disenchanted with the North American education system and found that the creative talents and gifts we enter the world with are often stifled. PEACE School was inspired by her love of the Earth’s nature (our interconnection with all life forms) and knowledge that creativity and imagination as the backbone of education, are essential for a meaningful learning experience. At PEACE School, the world is our classroom, where children live in wonder with the knowledge that there is a Universe of limitless possibilities.

Susan’s long career path has provided her with abundant skills to manoeuvre through life. It began with establishing and supervising a Montessori style Child Enrichment Program, to executive office worker, then child care worker with “at risk” teens. She shifted to the film and television industry as a journalist, writer, producer, director and editor, employed by a major film company and all Canadian National networks, then launched her own multi-media Agency: ICU Media. In tandem she was a College Professor (Project Management, Business English; Computer Software), Public Relations Officer for Nipissing University and ESL instructor. In 2006, she returned to her original vision and passion – to create a meaningful education platform where children are nurtured, to reach their fullest potential and blossom into joyful, creative citizens, while discovering their limitless possibilities.

Susan is an advocate of cooperative community living and has volunteered in a variety of ways: playing flute in the North Bay Symphony and 22 Wing Military Band; acting as chaperone and public relations officer for a high school band during two European tours through Vienna, Prague, Salzburg, Weimer, Bath, London (UK) and Paris. She coordinated a Canada-Wide Science Fair in North Bay, Ontario, and for 13 years assisted Youth Science Foundation Canada, sat on the National Science Fair, and chaired on the North Bay Regional Science Fair Committees. She was active in her children’s education as Chair of Parent-Teacher Association for their school, and through Children of Chernobyl Canada, she hosted a Belarusian child for a respite in her home over 7 years.

Susan has been inspired, and guided by great spirits and mentors along her journey, who have given her the courage and confidence to undertake the immense mission to manifest her vision to re-enchant education and give the Earth back to the Arms of Love.

Paul Gafni

paulPaul Gafni is the Mathematics Instructor for the early entrance students at the Transition School at the University of Washington and runs programming around the greater Seattle area with Math for Love.

At Transition School, his mission is to prepare students to excel as full time university students in the field of their choice. One of his primary aims in this regard is to ensure that they have enough ownership of their ideas that they can communicate meaningfully about the ideas they are learning. This includes regular written assignments in LaTeX, assessed for clarity of communication and strength of analysis, as well as extensive time in class for collaborative pair work on whiteboard walls and lots of oral communication.

With Math for Love, his mission is to provide genuine mathematical experiences to learners of a variety of ages. These mathematical experiences include elements of play, curiosity, and open-endedness, giving learners agency to ask and answer their own questions. These programs take place as before/after school clubs, weekend classes, library events, math nights, games nights, professional development, private parties, etc.

He graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University with Departmental Honors, earning a BA in Mathematics in 2011, pursuing independent research describing a class of chess positions as combinatorial games, inspired by the work of Noam Elkies, John Conway, Elwyn Berlekamp, and Richard Guy. Since then, he has focused his further math learning on searching for ideas that are compelling, puzzling, accessible, and elegant to both young learners and PhDs. Gems in this search have included the works of James Tanton, Martin Gardner, Vi Hart, and Gordon Hamilton, as well as the Julia Robinson Festival Problem Archives.

Pam Sorooshian

pamPam Sorooshian is the mom of three grown-up unschooled kids: Roya (30), Roxana (28), and Rose (24). She is also an economics and statistics professor. Her family lives in Southern California and she is on the Board of Directors of the HomeSchool Association of California. Pam, and her husband, Cyrus, pulled Roya out of 4th grade, Roxana out of 1st grade, and never sent Rose to school at all. That was 20 years ago, and they spent about a month thinking “unit studies” were a good idea before jumping fully into unschooling. Pam has been a frequent participant in online unschooling discussions and has spoken at unschooling conferences all over the country. She is the owner of the “Unschooling California” Facebook group. She thinks it is interesting that her children are making surprisingly conventional adult choices considering their very unconventional upbringing. Roya has a BA in Recreation and Leisure Studies and an MS in counseling. She is a family therapist intern and a college professor. She also offers private homeschooling coaching by email. Roxana has BAs in both history and drama and an MA in drama and is about to start a masters program in library and information science. Rose has a BA degree in Deaf Studies and is an American Sign Language interpreter and sign language instructor. She teaches college courses to adult students with developmental disabilities. In spite of, or maybe because of, their unschooling backgrounds, they have excelled as college students and have received many academic honors, awards, and scholarships. To Pam, unschooling means creating a peaceful, safe, and loving home life with many opportunities for exploration, invention, investigation, and conversation. It means very involved parents who pay close attention to supporting their children’s interests. And it means joy and closeness and a very special, very sweet, parent/child relationship.

Learning Happens: Unschooling Observations and Opinions –




Lainie Liberti

As always, you can find out more about your host, Lainie Liberti at her website and the alternative education & world schooling project she runs with her teenage son at: You can also connect with her on twitter @ilainie & facebook.

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