According to research from UCLA, as many as 60% of all college students who intend to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) end up transferring to another major. Richard Rusczyk experienced this firsthand when he arrived at Princeton and began studying math alongside kids from the most prestigious high schools in the country. There he realized that “kids who had never gotten anything but 95s and 100s on their tests were suddenly getting 62s, and then they decided they weren’t any good at math.” Why? “They had been taught that math was a set of destinations, and they were taught to follow a set of rules to get to those places,” he recalls. “They were never taught how to read a map—or even that there is a map.”
At GCDS, our goal in teaching mathematics is to help students go beyond basic memorization. They will certainly become masters of their math facts, but, more importantly, they will learn to understand numbers and to problem solve using multiple strategies. We want to make sure that our students develop the deeper conceptual understanding needed to “read the map,” so that in high school and college they will be among the students who are energized rather than discouraged by the complex problems, applied math, and systems thinking required for more advanced studies in STEM fields.
In this video, you will see one of the many ways our teachers help students build this more rigorous mathematical understanding—as well as the ways that teachers use workshops and professional development to improve their ability to help all our students become strong math learners.
Adam C. Rohdie
Headmaster, The Greenwich Country Day School