COVID-19: How we are helping our Community
You don’t need us to tell you that these are difficult times, presenting unexpected problems to millions of people. We are all worried about our health, our jobs, the education of our children – and we have more time than usual to worry about them. That mathematics can help may surprise you! It gives us tools with which to confront the unknown, to see beyond time and space, to remind ourselves of eternal beauty in what may seem to be a frightening moment in history.
The Global Math Circle is a nonprofit organization that spreads the joy of mathematical discovery, collegially and uncompetitively, through online conversations. We have something precious to offer: a method and a format to do real math without the constraints of classroom teaching. Starting at Harvard University, we have provided this for 26 years, the last five entirely online on Zoom. We already have the financial and administrative structures to accommodate many hundreds of math circles. In these difficult days, we want to help bring children, parents, teachers, and mathematicians together to use their unexpected free time to explore something beautiful. We hope very much that you will join us.
Millions of kids in countries around the world are now stranded at home, confined by school closures and quarantine measures. This could be a desert of dreadful boredom for them, or a chance to engage in exciting ideas while making new friends in a live online Math Circle (on zoom). Our teaching method puts the children in charge; the class leader proposes a fruitful, intriguing problem and then allows wide-ranging exploration, only nudging the debate when it seems to be heading down a dead end. The children invent their own terms and techniques, make their own hypotheses and uncover their own counterexamples. It is only at the end of the series of sessions that they find that they have just tackled a significant milestone in the development of math.
Tens of thousands of parents have greater worries than just keeping their kids entertained and occupied during an enforced time at home: they may be out of a job. Our Math Circles usually cost $250 for ten hour-long sessions, but we want to be able to help those parents for whom this is impossible. We are therefore providing scholarships for children whose parents cannot afford to enroll. If this describes you, please contact us to explain your situation and we will see if you qualify for the scholarship. The first twenty-four places have been funded by board members of the Global Math Circle, and we hope that parents for whom money is not a problem might want to fund places for children who need it. If you are a generous parent who would like to support the cause, please make your donation here. We are a nonprofit organization and all surplus funds go to support our community.
Thousands of dedicated teachers are finding themselves carried off from their vocation with the closure of so many schools. If you are passionate about math and teaching, and would like to use this time away from school to learn a new way to teach math, we have a class leader training program starting soon. Please contact us if you are interested. We pay our teachers $100 per one-hour session; it's hard work, because it is such an intense and responsive style of teaching, but it is so rewarding to see how discovery blossoms.
If you would like to support our cause and mission, thank you! You can make a donation here. If you know children, parents, or teachers who could benefit from our program, please refer them to us by adding them to our mailing list. Your donations today will go to help the children and teachers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In less difficult times, donations go towards spreading the Math Circle style of teaching to other countries, including our recent start-ups in Africa.
The isolation brought by disease can feel like a prison sentence – but, as we believe and say in the Global Math Circle: Math is Freedom!