Amazon Launches ‘With Math I Can’ Initiative

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Online retail giant Amazon has announced the launch of a national movement meant to put an end to the fear that many students in the United States feel when they set foot in a math classroom.

The “With Math I Can” initiative was created in an effort to have parents push a “growth mindset” rather than a “fixed mindset,” asking them to sign and shift to such instruction within the classroom.  The movement’s website offers additional free resources helping users to determine exactly what a “growth mindset” entails, lesson plans, and more, writes Jason Del Ray for ReCode.

Created by a division of Amazon devoted to offering tech-based resources for K-12 education, the goal of the initiative is to change how students feel about math, as more than half of young adults do not consider themselves to be good at the subject, according to a survey by Change the Equation.  That same survey found 93% of participants agree that good math skills are necessary to get ahead in life.

Amazon is looking to replace the thoughts of “I’m not good at math,” with “I will learn from my mistakes.”  The company would like to see students adopt a growth mindset that focuses on the learning process rather than on concrete results that stem from solving individual problems.

The company will not create an ad campaign for the website, www.withmathican.org, although there are plans to push the program through social media and through an informational video, reports Ángel González for The Seattle Times.

A number of nonprofits devoted to education were brought into the program by Amazon, including the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, ASCD (formerly known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) and Character Lab.  Two school districts in California and one in New Jersey are also on board.

Amazon has not disclosed how much it cost to set up the program.

Rohit Agarwal, General Manager of Amazon K-12 Education, says the change came about after discovering that only 44% of low-income students attain a basic understanding of math while in school.  Even after the launch of TenMarks, a math platform acquired by the company in 2013, the education team for Amazon said that despite seeing progress being made by students who used the program, they still found students who said, “I’m not good at math.”  According to Agarwal, teachers who used TenMarks helped to inspire the new initiative.

“We believe that the attitude that it’s okay not to be good at math is just becoming too common,” Agarwal said in an interview. “Developing good math skills is essential to success at life.”

The program comes at a time when government officials and technology industrialists are expressing concerns about the adaptability of the US workforce as manufacturing jobs are stepping aside to create room for positions that hold a stronger focus on complex math and science skills.

Just last week President Obama proposed spending more than $4 billion across the next three years in order to increase student exposure to computer science.

Kristin Decarr

Kristin Decarr

Kristin Decarr

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