Monday, March 1, 2021

The case for virtual conferences and workshops post pandemic



The future is not written. We can secure the prosperity of future generations through our actions today. We can make choices that determine how we ultimately manage the climate and human climate crises, AKA the twin crises, of our time. We need both policy and individual actions to address these crises, and while individual actions are small in terms of contributions to the CO2 footprint, changing norms and influencing the policy requires individuals to take part in the process by raising awareness. We influence the people in our circles. 

Everyone wants to see friends, family, and colleagues in person and enjoy activities we can do together. Conference travel has taken me to places I wouldn’t have traveled to otherwise, and I have been able to meet new people and learn new ideas via work-related travel. No one wants to travel more than I do, and I understand how going virtual impacts people. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warming_stripes

But my thinking has drastically changed the past few years, and now I’ve come to the conclusion, where I strongly believe we need to do things differently in higher education.  We should plan virtual meetings and conferences post pandemic as the default (with allowances for regional hubs). More and more faculty are concerned about our role in the climate crisis, and some believe we should do our part to reduce our carbon footprint and set an example for other sectors of society. My individual actions are tiny compared to what professional societies and institutions can do, and purchasing an electric car or reducing my air travel is minuscule in relation to what the math profession or the larger education sector contributes.


How much CO2? For one of the 2019 IBL workshops offered by AIBL, the total flight miles was about 90,000 miles traveled by just 33 participants and facilitators. These flights created about 24 tonnes of CO2, and does not include airport transfers, conference room service, and if family or significant others also traveled. 


Conferences create orders of magnitude more carbon footprint than a single, small workshop. One large example is the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). “Take the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) — the world’s largest Earth- and space-science conference — held in San Francisco, California, last December. We calculate that its 28,000 delegates travelled 285 million kilometres there and back — almost twice the distance between Earth and the Sun. In doing so, they emitted the equivalent of about 80,000 tonnes of CO2 (tCO2e).” (Link).  The Joint Math Meetings or MathFest are much smaller, yet still could account for thousands of tonnes of CO2. 


I think most people understand generally why this matters. David Wallace-Wells wrote about some terrifying studies in his book, “The Uninhabitable Earth.”  Half of all CO2 emitted in history has been during the last 30 years. In one study just the difference between 1.5C and 2.0C and only looking at air pollution (and not other factors) results in an estimated 153 +/- 43 million deaths. This is unconscionable, especially given that poorer, developing regions and BIPOC communities will bear the greatest burden, and they have contributed far less to the crisis (Link to cited article). Not only is climate the largest problem we have faced, it is also the largest social justice problem we have ever faced. What scientists have learned is that we are on the path past +2C, and that climate change is a dial, not a binary on-off switch. The less carbon we emit, the less suffering there will be, and humans control how far we turn this dial. 


Another major reason why I believe in the value and promise of virtual options is equity. There are a handful of groups of people that often are not able to participate in professional development workshops or travel to conferences. These are people with small children or other people in their care, people with health issues or disabilities that prevent them from traveling, non-tenure track faculty, and instructors who do not have access to travel funding, who often work at 2-year colleges and regional institutions. 


Even before the pandemic, people in these categories were not able to travel to conferences or workshops. For those who have been able to travel in the past for work and are looking forward to doing it again, imagine all the people working in our profession who have not had such opportunities. During the pandemic some of them were able to attend virtual JMM or a virtual IBL workshop, and if things open back to the way they were, these groups will once again be locked out. Even if we had the technology to create zero-carbon air travel, equity will persist as an issue. 


One overlooked consequence of going back to 2019 is that it puts the onus on individuals to try and navigate systemic issues. Individuals would have to choose between the climate or attending a conference to advance their careers. Some individuals will not be able to attend, and all they can do it email the organizers, if there will be remote participation options. This is one way systems perpetuate social problems, and hence it is the responsibility of professional societies and institutions of higher ed to work on these issues and develop systemic solutions to system induced, contributed, or created problems. 


One aspect of addressing the climate and equity crises is the essential role of policy. In our small corner of the world of math associations, policies could be crafted that help us do better in both reduction of our carbon footprint and increasing access for all people in the math profession. Otherwise, we will continue to add to climate problems and maintain social inequities.


Biennials, regional hubs and virtual attendance can significantly reduce emissions (Link). Carbon offsets can be purchased to mitigate absolutely necessary travel (and could be built into the cost of registration fees. I personally use Native Energy). I We can also develop virtual events during conferences and workshops to include activities for informal community building, recreating some of the valuable informal time at in-person conferences. We can innovate how we organize these sessions and utilize technology to make these experiences check all the boxes.


One oversimplified mental exercise is to ask, "Would I rather spend part of our carbon budget on work travel or on visiting family once a year?" This is not a real choice. It's an exercise in engaging in defining priorities and attempting to connect to our values.


As a profession we say we care about climate and equity, and if we go back to the way things were in 2019 after the pandemic, then it’s tantamount to looking the other way. Looking the other way normalizes human suffering and inequities, which is exactly the opposite of the collectivist values needed to pull us together to deal sufficiently with the twin crises of our time. So let’s not look the other way and languish in complacency, because we need a more empathic, active response. Let’s look forward and think creatively to recreate better and more inclusive ways to meet and do our work.


Friday, February 26, 2021

IBL Rhythm Changes (IBL-Jazz Analogy)

Rhythm Changes is a common 32-bar chord progression in jazz, originating as the chord progression for George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm."

Jazz is a useful analogy to some aspects of IBL teaching. You have your big goals and plans for what to do in class, and as the teacher you are the holder of the vision for the course. But what happens in class depends on the people there. Two sections of the same course can often be different on a day-to-day basis. What an instructor does depends on what happened the class before, and being able to "improvise" in the moment to take advantage of what students are saying and doing. That is, be open and able to dance with the spirit. 

The word improvisation sometimes has the connotation that things are just made up on the spot. That's not the case in Jazz improvisation or teaching, and we can unpack what improvisation means. In Jazz improvisation is a studied, practiced, musical art form. Improvisation is within a context, a set chord progression, and there are standard practices and key notes. From these "ingredients" comes the creative artistic part, which I cannot explain and merely enjoy as a fan of Jazz. 

The connection to teaching is that we have our plans for the days and weeks of the course. What happens in a lesson or a specific activity depends on what students do and where they are at. This is where teaching improvisation (or flexibility) comes in. Depending on what a student says, we adapt to maximize the learning opportunities present. Mistakes, half starts, full solutions, alternative takes, are all valued discoveries and items for discussion. The students respond to the teacher, and the teacher adapts to the students. The whole group tries to do math and create learning.

    "In music, silence is more important than sound." - Miles Davis

We can teach using silence, and teaching using silence can mean several different things. One is to ensure students have time to think for themselves. Another is to let students to discuss with one another, where the teacher is not talking and instead listening to student thinking.  A third meaning of teaching with silence is letting problems do the talking. This is when a rich task has the imbedded learning through engagement in the problem-solving process. Rather than the teacher explaining it all, the process of working through a problem can be a way knowledge and skills are learned.

Silence can go too far, of course. A song with 3 minutes of pure silence isn't music. I'm arguing for a balance of saying enough to keep things going or set the stage, but not too much that I'm doing all the playing and students are sitting on the side.  

So what about our detailed plans?  Miles Davis might say, "So what." Plans are preparation, and we should expect to be flexible and present in the moment. Plans are the practice, the setup, the choices about what we're working on, and how we're going to work together. If things go well, our students have the time and space to comp and solo in class, and we learn to work together as an ensemble be more creative, thoughtful, and respectful.

IBL is like Jazz, and one of our jobs as teachers is to be prepared for rhythm changes.






Thursday, January 28, 2021

IBL Workshops Work! Validating Our Theory of Change with the Theory of Planned Behavior (Preliminary)

This blog post is co-written with Dr. Tim Archie, CU Boulder, Ethnography and Evaluation Research, Tim.Archie@Colorado.EDU, and this is work done by him and Dr. Sandra Laursen, Devan Daly, Chuck Hayward, CU Boulder. This effort is funded by collaborative NSF grants DUE-1525077, DUE 1525058.

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“A lever is a simple machine used to move an object at one location by applying a force somewhere else. When we try something and see that it is working, we have gained leverage on the problem.” -Levers for Change, AAAS Link

In this piece, we look at one of the key levers for change, professional development workshops in higher education. We'll start with our theory of change, and then share results from our research team. Specifically the data is based on participants, who attended intensive 4-day IBL workshops. These workshops provided intensive training to more than 500 college math instructors, impacting hundreds of courses and thousands of students per year. Peer-reviewed articles will be published separately, and if you have questions about technical aspects of this work, please contact Tim. In this piece, we focus on the broad story about how professional development can change instructor behavior in the classroom.

Our Theory of Change is that instructors need professional development to make the switch from passive instructional methods to creating active, student-centered, inquiry-based learning environments.  This professional development must address instructors’ knowledge and skills to carry out IBL in their own classrooms, but also their beliefs about instruction, and must mesh with their own identities as teachers and understanding of their own students and teaching contexts.  Achieving substantive change in teaching can be addressed via intensive summer workshops that provide these resources and a strong, steady support system that follows each instructor through the evolution of their professional career.  Yet we also need to find ways to build the pipeline of instructors who are aware of and receptive to IBL methods.  To widely offer these varied forms of professional development will require a larger, more flexible group of skilled professional developers than is now available.  Building capacity to design and deliver effective professional development is necessary for increasing uptake in college mathematics.

College math instructors are not fully trained in teaching. We may receive some training as TAs, and then we are off to start our teaching careers. Active, student-centered teaching methods, such as IBL, require skills and practices for maximizing effectiveness. While some instructors are able to learn and develop these skills on their own or by attending conferences, professional development workshops can provide a big boost to help instructors new (or newish) to IBL teaching.

The IBL workshop is a 4-strand model. The fours strands are (1) analyzing video of IBL classes, (2) discussing the nuts and bolts of running an IBL class, (3) developing a target IBL course, and (4) studying articles from the mathematics education literature.  The four strands were designed to address specific obstacles instructors face in their classrooms.

How do we know a workshop works? To answer this question, we need to define two terms, IBL capacity, and IBL intensity.


IBL capacity is an aggregate of several variables. It includes a participant’s beliefs about the effectiveness of IBL, knowledge of IBL, and skill in using IBL. What the evaluation team did is ask participants to self-rate their capacity before the workshop, immediately after the workshop and one year after the workshop.


Our data show in the figure below that workshops increase IBL capacity. We see a statistically significant increase in capacity measures from pre to post workshop and that these gains are sustained through to the one year follow-up.



(The slight drop from post-workshop to follow-up is not statistically significant.)


IBL intensity is a way to measure how much or how intensely an instructor is using IBL. We know the workshops are effective because a large percentage of participants, 94%, reported using IBL methods after attending the workshop.  We also asked participants about the frequency of use of a range of teaching practices (e.g. group work, student presentations, lectures, etc.) before they attended the workshop and again one year after they attended the workshop. Higher scores indicate more intensive use of IBL and lower scores indicate lower IBL use.  Based on their responses, we created an IBL intensity scale shown on the y-axis of the chart below. We see a statistically significant increase in IBL intensity from pre-workshop to follow-up.



Crucially there is more to the story on top of the increases to IBL capacity and intensity. The evaluation team also conducted additional analysis to explain more precisely how the workshops work, using the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen 1991). The theory of planned behavior path model explains how the IBL workshops are influential in changing teaching practices and the relationships between IBL capacity, IBL intensity, and some other key factors.



Let's go down the left side of the model. Belief that IBL is effective is a factor that influences teaching. Simply put, the stronger your belief is in the effectiveness of IBL, the more likely you intend to implement IBL, which in turn affects IBL intensity. The IBL workshop has a strand that provides an opportunity to learn about the research supporting the use of IBL, see successful examples of IBL, and learn about real-world stories of student success. 


Subjective norms include factors such as department or institutional support and supportive colleagues.  For instance, the more supportive your department chair is, the higher your intent to implement is, which then affects IBL intensity. Generally, the more supportive the environment is, the more instructors use IBL. Subjective norms can also be a barrier. If you lack support, then you are less likely to implement. Norms matter, because teaching is a cultural activity, and local environments play a role.


The last factor on the left side is perceived behavior control.  This is the perception of how much you control your behavior, which is highly dependent on IBL capacity. If you feel confident in your skills and knowledge how to implement IBL, then this directly impacts both intent and IBL use. This is where IBL workshops play a direct role. Skills and practices are central topics of the workshops, and as shown we have data supporting participant gains in IBL capacity. 


There are other contextual factors that play a role. These factors are prior IBL experience, whether a course is coordinated (in a way that is supportive of IBL), and class size. All of these factors can potentially be barriers, such as coordination that steers instructors away from IBL or large class sizes.  


Factors such as gender, career stage, rank and position, and institutional type do not influence IBL capacity or IBL intensity (i.e. were controlled for).  This is a striking result, because what this means is that anyone can teach via IBL anywhere! While individuals do face different challenges in the field due to their identity, group differences are not detected in the data. Of course identity matters in teaching, but what we know from experience and from data that no matter what group you are in, it is possible to teach via IBL in whatever setting. This means that the challenges we face are surmountable, and the focus should be on finding ways to support instructors.


Technical Question: What does r = 0.18 mean in the relationship between attitudes that IBL works and intent to use IBL? These are standardized regression coefficients which describe the relative strength of association between an independent and dependent variable. Standardized coefficients have standard deviations as their units, making the coefficients comparable when variables have different levels of measurement.  Please also see “An Effect Size Primer: A Guide for Clinicians and Researchers” https://doi.org/10.1037/14805-020


Summary of key findings

  1. The theory of planned behavior model explains 21% of the variability of behavior change (IBL intensity). (Note: R^2 equal to 21% is a significant result for social science. For more see this Link
  2. Workshops increase IBL capacity. 
  3. Workshops increase IBL intensity.
  4. Department norms and institutional support matter for better or worse.
  5. Other factors like class size, course coordination, environment, course coordination, beliefs, play a role influencing IBL intensity. 
  6. Anyone can teach IBL anywhere (under the right conditions)

Consequently, we can confidently say that IBL workshops work. Instructors change practices in meaningful ways. We can measure IBL capacity and intensity, and further we can see more clearly how the pieces fit together in a coherent story. Some policy implications include increased and sustained investment in professional development workshops, providing more support for faculty to access training, conducting outreach by individuals and professional societies, targeted efforts to inform and train department chairs and course coordinators, and investing in addressing institutional barriers to adoption of IBL methods (e.g reducing class size, mitigating the effects of large class sizes).


References

Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179-211.


Archie, T., Laursen, S., Hayward, C. N., Yoshinobu, S., & Daly, D. (2020, November 5-7). Findings from 10 years of math instructor teaching professional development [Link to Poster]. This Changes Everything, AAC&U Virtual Conference on Transforming STEM Higher Education.


Ferguson, C. J. (2016). An effect size primer: A guide for clinicians and researchers. In A. E. Kazdin (Ed.), Methodological issues and strategies in clinical research (p. 301–310). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/14805-020






Friday, January 8, 2021

Why I Use Dr. Y or Professor Y When I Teach

When I started teaching, I was given some advice to use my first name with my students. The idea was to be more friendly and make things more comfortable in class. Many of us, perhaps nearly off of us, got that message. I didn’t think about it too hard then, and I did that for many years, all the while not knowing that what I was doing was making things harder for women in academia.

Last month Dr. Jill Biden was the target of a disdainful WSJ op ed, basically saying she’s not a real doctor and full of sexism and anti-intellectual tones. It’s one example of a long history of sexist put down of successful, smart women in the academy.

Men get to be Dr. ___, even if they use Stan or Paul in class, but women get called Ms.___ or Alice, and it’s not always respected or assumed that the woman is a Dr. ___ and an expert.

This is how systemic biases can work. We do things without knowing that it undermines a group of people. A well intended suggestion I received early in my career, which sounded like good advice at the time, actually had some hidden( to me) negative aspects that oppresses women in higher education. Later I learned about the biases that make it so that women have to work harder and deal with more, and the extra challenges and burdens women have to deal with.

Consequently, I decided years ago to use Dr. Y or professor Y with my students. It’s out of solidarity with women and minoritized groups, and it’s with the long-term goal of contributing to shifting norms towards equity and social justice. If we all did it, then that’d be the standard way students would address *all* faculty.

In countries like Japan, all teachers in elementary and secondary schools, professors, medical doctors, other leaders are given the title, “sensei.” It is an honorable title for those who teach or help others in society. Japan is not a society that earns high marks for gender equity, so I’m not trying to say that the term is some magic bullet. Thinking about what sensei means in Japan, however, does provide useful insights. Doctor can mean more than one thing, and we generally lack norms that could help our education system be more inclusive and equitable for women.

The closest thing we have to sensei is professor, although professor has been earmarked as a rank. For those who are lecturers and without a Ph.D., we do not have a professional title. Given all this, I argue that it is appropriate for all college instructors to use the title “professor” in classes, just as sensei is used by K-college instructors in Japan. Words and titles can mean more than one thing, and their meaning can be easily understood in context.

Thus, I invite all my colleagues to consider using Dr. or professor with our students, if you haven’t done so already, because it contributes to shifting norms in a decisively positive direction. We could explain to our students why we are using our titles, and why it’s important to respect all educators for gender equity. Where possible, we can use our titles, identities, and positions at our institutions to level the playing field for women in higher education.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

How much professional development is enough?

This post is a summary of some research findings for a series of workshops we have conducted with NSF PRODUCT. The evaluation team for the project is Dr. Sandra Laursen, Dr. Tim Archie, and Devan Daly, CU Boulder E&ER (Link to work on professional development, link to people). The talk was presented at the Joint Mathematics Meetings on January 7, 2021.

One of the many research questions they studied is, "How much is enough professional development?" 


Some key points:

  • We offered two general types of workshops. 
    • One week, residential or online via zoom summer intensive workshops (IWS). These were 30 hours+ of workshop time with a year of follow-up email mentoring.
    • Shorter traveling workshops (TWS), where two facilitators would travel to a conference or department and offer a workshop that lasted from a few hours to a day or day and a half. 
  • IBL capacity is a measure of skills and practices related to IBL teaching. It's sort of like a battery pack for teaching. More capacity means more skills and knowledge.
  • One result from the analysis is that both formats had a positive and significant impact on increasing IBL capacity.
  • IWS participants implement a more intensive version of IBL compared to TWS participants. 
  • TWS reached a different subset of the teaching population and was effective at increasing interest in IBL. 
  • TWS reaching different subset of teaching population is due in part by outreach efforts to send facilitators to groups that are not doing IBL yet. For example, sending teams to 2-year colleges. The IBL community in math roots in the Mathematical Association of American, which skews toward 4-year and advanced degree granting institutions. Travel funding can be a barrier for IWS, and TWS commitment level is lower. (It's a commitment to spend a week of summer at an IBL Workshop.) 
  • Rather than the dosage analogy, a another analogy is TWS and IWS are different tools, and could be used strategically for different main purposes.  
  • Takeaway: Use TWS to increase awareness, interest, reach new instructors, and get people trying IBL methods.  Use IWS to increase depth of IBL implementation. 




Wednesday, December 16, 2020

IBL Blog Playlist (updated)

A really short post...  I've kept playlist of IBL blog posts organized by topic. Posts go back to 2011, and the idea behind the playlist is to help people find some of the more popular posts, instead of having to dig around. Here's the link:  The IBL Blog playlist.  Take care!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Owning IBL History

History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we are literally criminals.   - James Baldwin

History can be viewed as inconvenient, and we can try and ignore it or hide it, and thus be trapped by it. But embracing our history and its lessons is in my view a healthy step in the long, meandering journey towards a better society.

The IBL movement in college mathematics in America has some roots with R. L. Moore. Moore was a sexist and racist, and this is well documented. This post is not about his teaching. This post is about the present day state of the IBL movement as unequivocally a movement for social justice in math education, and the history of how we arrived here. 

Let's be clear. The Moore method is not IBL. One of the four pillars of IBL is instructor focus on equity. Today in 2020, we value people from all backgrounds, and our teaching must reflect this. When RLM prevented black students and women from enrolling in a class, he was being a gatekeeper via overt acts of bias. That was obviously wrong, it's part of our profession's history, and it is why we do not include Moore method in IBL.

For many years starting in the mid 2000s, effort and thinking went into trying to expand the definition of IBL in order to move forward. At one point in time, group work was not considered acceptable by some (not me) who promoted the Moore method. I remember clearly after giving a talk, fielding comments about the problems of group work and how it was not Moore method...  Many of us, however, understood that we could not move forward with a binary choice between (a) Moore method and (b) lecture. There must exist a broader definition of IBL methods, and hence the idea by Sandra Laursen to use the "big tent IBL" phrase to be more inclusive of different viewpoints and implementation of active, student-centered teaching. We needed to expand on multiple levels to get more people feel welcome. 

What's common in the big tent? The four pillars of IBL or IBME are "student engagement in meaningful mathematics, student collaboration for sense-making, instructor inquiry into student thinking, and equitable instructional practice to include all in rigorous mathematical learning and mathematical identity-building." (Laursen and Rasmussen 2019 Link)

In 2015,  Dave Kung, St. Mary's College of Maryland was invited to speak at the IBL conference. Dave and I (and others) discussed the issue of the problem of RLM's racism and how that was negatively impacting our ability to move forward. I expressed to Dave my support to address the issue of changing the name of the conference, because I felt then and as I do now that it was the right thing to do. 

Below is a short excerpt from Dave's talk. 

One of the things the IBL community needs to do is to drop the RL Moore name from this conference... As hard as that is for many people, there's a community out there which will never come to this conference, which will never attend the R. L. Moore conference, but they will attend the IBL conference.     - Dave Kung

Some of us spoke truth to power during that time to change the name and to do more for social justice issues in math education and the IBL community.  Some of us, myself included, paid a personal and professional price for it, but it was worth it.  

The history of math education sadly includes things we are not proud of, which is not surprising given that teaching is part of our society. The question is what is our responsibility?  It's clearly not to hide or whitewash history or to merely change a name and move on. We need to do things that make society better.

In the aftermath of that period of time, some in the IBL community worked intentionally on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI). The equity pillar was added to the pillars of IBL so that the definition of IBL includes an instructor focus on equity.  

We implemented a "ground game" to recruit math instructors from minority serving institutions, instructors of color, and women to IBL workshops. We did this so that high-impact teaching practices would reach more students from minoritized groups, which research strongly suggests can be beneficial to them. 

It needs to be said; the joke is on RLM. Good implementation of IBL levels the playing field for women and people of color. This is classic irony, where the person trying to exclude women and black students from his teaching, ultimately contributes to creating teaching methods that have pulled up the people he was trying to keep down. We have pulled up by orders of magnitude more women and people of color than he excluded in his lifetime.

The double irony in this story is those who reject IBL methods in favor of teacher-centered instruction, because of RLM's racism and sexism. Education research suggests strongly that teacher-centered instruction leads to women and minorities leaving the STEM pipeline. Thus, those clinging to teacher-centered methods in effect are maintaining the status quo, which was RLM's goal. This is why we need science and humanity to sort through the messy data and social constructs. (Theobald et al 2020)

Anyways moving on, facilitators involved in the NSF PRODUCT workshops during the past 3 years engaged in diversity training, and we implemented sessions on equitable teaching practices at our recent summer workshops. These sessions have had an impact on participants, and more instructors in college math now know about ways to teach equitably, and we have the ability to offer professional development in equitable teaching practices today in college math, which wasn't a capability we had in the past.

I created a self-paced workshop for college math instructors interested in starting the process of learning more about race in America (Link to The Beloved Community and Teaching self-paced workshop). This introduction to race in America is based on a longer list of videos posted here on the AIBL webpage (Link). Connected to this is the love, empathy, respect movement to re-humanize education, especially during a pandemic (Link), and we are making progress in assessment by incorporating equitable, bias-resistant strategies, such as mastery-based grading (Link). 

In the aftermath of the protests following the murder of George Floyd, I wrote a statement posted on the AIBL website. 

Statement on Equity and Black Lives Matter: AIBL is an organization that works toward equity, inclusion, and dismantling systemic racism in education.  AIBL strives to dismantle systemic racism via modernizing teaching via the 4 pillars of IBL. AIBL believes fundamentally in equity, inclusion, and promoting women and people of color in the Mathematical Sciences.  We believe black lives matter, and we commit to specifically support the black community in Mathematics.  While we acknowledge that some modern day teaching methods are rooted in the teaching methods of R.L. Moore, AIBL explicitly states that the Moore Method is not IBL.  We explicitly make this distinction due to Moore’s well-documented racism

Some have argued that we should change the name of the movement yet again. IBL = MM to some still, so it's tainted. I understand this feeling and I fully get why people would want to do this. This why I am sharing some of the history, so that people are informed about the efforts and battles of the past that bring us to the present day. My sense from all this is that embracing history is the way forward.

Embracing history to me means that we are honest about the mistakes we have made in our profession, and then work to fix these issues. We dropped RLM's name, and did several things listed above to start to move the needle. And we have more work to do obviously.

Dignity also matters. Everyone deserves to live and work with dignity. I understand this personally as member of the Japanese American community, where some of people I knew growing up were forced into concentration camps during World War 2.  Thus, I apologize to all affected when RLM's name was attached to the conference and other events in the past. I apologize to black mathematicians, who feel unwelcome in the IBL community, because a known racist was held up, while your concerns about racism were being downplayed and dismissed. More of us should have listened and done more.

One of my personal goals as an educator is to help build a coalition of people, that joins together in fellowship to do JEDI work in math. I know I won't be perfect and I will make mistakes.  I also know that I will own up to my mistakes, and continue to work with the shokunin spirit, guided by my principals, where everyday I will try my best to contribute positively to our community. 


Additional Links:

  • Dave Kung's slides for his 2015 plenary are posted here. The full talk is here.
  • CU Boulder E&ER (Laursen, Haberler, Hayward) has a page here, devoted to "studying how people, structures, and ideas are important to the past development, current growth, and future sustainability of an educational community that promotes inquiry-based learning in college mathematics."