MidSchoolMath, TED and the Metric System

MiddleSchoolMath Conference

The next MidSchool Math conference is already in the planning stages

The MidSchoolMath Conference where I spoke last month

Last month I spoke for a second year at the MidSchoolMath Conference in Santa Fe. The intent of the conference is to help teachers avoid the drop in scores in math that typically occur once students enter middle school. It’s an admirable effort, which is why I’ve spoken there the last two years. I’m huge supporters of the folks behind these efforts and hope you will too. For more information about the work of the organizers visit the Imagine Education site.

I made a different presentation this year than I did last time, so it required some more preparation, particularly in light of some new research that came into my hands on just how much of our students’ time that might be wasted in the classroom. I’ll write more about that research at a later date.

I had a smaller session than last year, probably because there were more concurrent sessions during my time slot this year, and bad weather stopped a lot of people from attending the conference. As a result, I only had 17 people in my session this time (compared with almost 50 last year). Still, they were an attentive audience, backing up my assertions and answering questions I couldn’t (I don’t teach mid-school math, after all).

A few people filled out the feedback forms and entered comments along the lines of “Keep up the good fight” and some signed up to be on the distribution list for my project’s email list. I really appreciate the feedback and support.

Hopefully, I’ll be invited back again next year. I’m always happy to present to any audience I can get to without costing me large sums of money.


TEDx talks are regional versions of TED talks

I’m going to TED!

Next weekend I’m flying to Vancouver, BC, Canada to attend TED. (For those of you not familiar with the TED talk format, I strongly encourage you to check out their offerings. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of them? Check out the top 20 most popular talks here.)

If you know what TED is, this is a big deal. Even if you have the funds to go, TED gets to invite who it wants to attend. I had an edge since I organized a corporate TEDx event for my employer last year. (A TEDx talk is a licensed, independently organized TED talk.)

Since I’m going on my own dime (and not on behalf of my employer), I’ll be in a position to promote the pro-metric work I’m engaged in, including the documentary. TED is no run-of-the-mill conference, and with the motto of “Ideas worth spreading,” I can’t think of a more open group of people with whom to share the vision of a fully metric America and all the advantages it confers.

I’ve already identified some of the folks I’m hoping to reach out to from organizations like Target, Google and Cisco, among others. My hope is that large, U.S. companies with a stake in our future workforce will be both keenly interested in what the metric system has to offer as well as receptive to learning how we’ve hampered ourselves through our lack of its adoption.

Speaking of TED, I applied to give a talk related to metric system adoption at the TEDxABQ Women’s salon in May. I should find out later this month if I’ve been selected. I also plan to apply for the big TEDxABQ event scheduled for this fall. If I’m selected for either of these, it would provide me with the opportunity to reach hundreds of people who are looking to change the way we look at the world.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

There are more developments on the horizon, so stay tuned and join my mailing list if you want the latest information. Just send an email to milebehind@gmail.com with the subject “Subscribe.”

Thanks to all of you who care about this important topic.


One thought on “MidSchoolMath, TED and the Metric System

  1. We have a very similar problem in the United Kingdom. Recent British reports have also highlighted low numbers of women entering the engineering profession – far below the average for similar countries like Germany, France and Italy. One of the differences between young British women and their French, German and Italian counterparts is that they use stones and pounds to weight rather than kilograms themselves, making the word “kilogram” a “foreign” word. Is there a similar problem in the US?
    Unlike the US, it is mandatory in the UK that the medical profession use kilogram-only devices when weighing patients, but doctors and nurses will often “convert” their results to imperial units for the “benefit” of their patients.

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