Why Peace. Love. Pi.?

The Math Guru
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Well, as the sweet scent of September soars in the air (along with the equally sweet scent of those school supply stacked Staples aisles), I figure it’s time to do what I should have done LAST September: Start a blog!!!

Hold up, we’re moving too fast. Let’s start at the beginning:) Hello, my name is Vanessa. I am the founder/director of learning and inspiration of The Math Guru, a boutique math and science tutoring studio in uptown Toronto which I started almost four years ago! Why did I decide to do such a thing you ask? Well, when I was in high school, I actually failed Grade Eleven math twice. Twice! Like many people who haven’t found their educational guru, I hated math; until one day, I found mine.

My parents weren’t too pleased with my whole “I’m just not a math person” thing and so they decided it was time for an educational switch. So, in Grade Twelve I headed to another school – and found my mathematical guru. Not only did my new teacher speak to me in words that made sense, but she inspired me to find the ‘math person’ within – the one that lies within us all. Most importantly, I learned that even though some things don’t come easy, that with enough perseverance and perspective that those things do come – one way or another.

I couldn’t believe that I had wasted such a huge chunk of my teenage life convinced that math just wasn’t something that I was ever going to ‘get’, that this wonderful world of mathematics was simply off limits to some one like me. Totally insane, right?!

I became totally obsessed with the fact that there are a TON of people out there who just THINK that – believe that there’s this type of person out there, with mathematical powers or something. Where do people get this idea in the first place? Why did I, for example, think that I didn’t belong to this group of people?! Was it because I didn’t fit the mathematical stereotype? Because I was artsy? Because I didn’t have glasses and a pocket protector?! Because I totally didn’t know the first thing about video games?! I was obsessed. So, I decided to get a closer look at the STEM fields (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and the way that those fields intersect with teenage culture – or don’t! Pretty cool, I know. I ended up publishing a paper titled Imagining a World Where Paris Hilton Loves Mathematics and becoming an expert on the ridiculous ways that the media generates and enforces stereotypes of what it means to be a mathematician!

So back to the whole tutoring centre thing. After all that, I decided that my goal in life was to rid math & science of their bad reputation – to salvage those intricately beautiful bodies of knowledge from the clutches of media-induced stereotyping: To make math and science cool. That’s right. Believe it! But first, I wanted to make sure that I did whatever I could to make sure that no one ever ever went through life thinking that they simply weren’t ‘a math person.’ And so…I started The Math Guru, a super chill boutique math and science tutoring studio! TMG is a safe space where tutors are people too, where learning takes place with tea lattes in hand, and where anyone and everyone can learn to love math and science!

Over the years, I have seen an amazing number of math-haters convert to math-lovers, have watched countless teens change their view of what it means to love math, and have had the absolute pleasure of watching those who think that math and science are totally beyond them eventually get their dream job – you know, the one you imagine you’ll have when you’re a kid and you haven’t learned that society views math and science as the domain of a chosen few.

Most amazingly though, I have seen countless teens experience what I experienced when my world was rocked by an awesome math teacher: not just that “I can do anything” feeling, but that “I can do anything and I want you to feel the same way too” feeling.  It’s not just me that wants to make math and science accessible to everyone – it’s all of the wonderful kids and adults that walk through our doors. How cool is that?!

So, what’s the deal with this blog? Well, this is where you will find my musings on a variety of things including (but not limited to!) math and science education, teenage culture, our education system, STEM, and well, the way all of those things intersect – or often don’t. You won’t just be hearing from me – but from guest bloggers as well. You know what they say: It takes a village!

If there’s a particular topic that you’re interested in reading about, if you’ve got ideas on how to begin to unravel the tightly wound STEM stereotypes out there, if you get your hands on something I absolutely have to see/share, or if you want to write for The Math Guru, get in touch – I would love to hear from you!

The ocean can do what the drop cannot – let’s DO THIS!

peace. love. pi.

vaneSSa