Wednesday, August 18, 2021

How to outrun a bully: Build a startup for math learning

This is promising.  it is a concerted effort aimed at properly overcoming math anxiety.  It needs to be done.  The reality is that most parents and teachers are ill equipped to do this.

In my own life, my parents started early in telling me htat i was good at math, like in grade one.  As it was, my actual teacher was abusive then and taught me nothing as i was the only one in grade one (1954).  when we had a supply teacher for one week, my parents spoke to her and i do think that she walked me through the entire requirements of grade one arithematic.  She then told my parents that i was one of the smartest kids she had ever taught.  with that endorsement ringing in my years, my life course was set.

Of course, i was talented in many ways actually, but that super boost engaged me through many quite serious learning disabilities.  Try outright aversion to memory work.

My own son was also informed in grade one that he was really good at math.  Same result.  however he screwed up he could count of his math super power to overcome any difficulty.

My grandson has also been told he will be good at math. A month ago i sat down and walked him into playing chess.  He now plays a game every day with his dad.  What is astounding is the level of direct focus he brings to the game already.  he is fully engaged and he begins grade one in September.

So much can go wrong in our educational process and mathematics is the only path that truly generates a larger mental universe. So jump starting every kid into the game of mathematics is well worth doing.

How to outrun a bully: Build a startup for math learning


Adriann Kennedy (MDEI in progress)

Travis Ratnam (BASc ’06) remembers the first time he felt self-conscious about his grades. In elementary school the classroom bully went through everyone’s report cards, “trying to figure out who the dumbest kid was and concluded it was me.”

Ratnam’s father stepped up to tutor his son in math, helping Ratnam gradually build his confidence until he was at the top of his class. It was a turning point: “Could this mean that I could maybe do well in other subjects as well?”

When Ratnam graduated from high school he was awarded a Governor General’s Academic Medal, one Canada’s most prestigious academic honours.

Today, as the co-founder and CEO of Knowledgehook, Ratnam is using lessons learned from that early setback to help other children. Knowledgehook is a software platform that uses artificial intelligence to help teachers uncover each student’s unique learning needs.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools online in 2020, the company partnered with the Government of Ontario to make the Knowledgehook Open Access platform available to every student and teacher in the province.

Later that year, Knowledgehook raised $20 million in funding as educators, parents and leaders searched for new ways to meet students’ needs for online math learning. The company has won a Google Game Changer Award and has been named a BNN Bloomberg Top Disruptor.

While Ratnam maximized his own learning by asking questions and getting feedback after every class, he stresses that Knowledgehook empowers teachers by identifying where each student is struggling and offers supports to help.

Ratnam built the company with fellow engineering alumnus Lambo Jayapalan (BSE ’07), Knowledgehook’s chief technology officer. They connected on campus in 2004 after a devastating tsunami hit Southeast Asia – they’re both of Sri Lankan descent and wanted to find ways to help the recovery efforts.

The pair have been collaborating ever since. “I was the talkative ideas guy. So, it’s ‘Lambo, can you build this?’ and his reply was always, ‘I can build whatever you want.’”

Ratnam said Knowledgehook wasn’t designed to replicate what worked for him. Instead, the goal is to harness the spirit behind his own education for the benefit of each individual learner.

“It’s about empowering people and helping them find their purpose in life, and helping them be a part of our story of advancing humanity.”

No comments: