The Optimist Citizen

How a teacher disrupted the existing math curriculum in schools with the Mathnasium model of teaching

What happens when a passionate teacher with an innovative teaching idea goes above and beyond his classroom? He disrupts the educational landscape of his city.

Mathnasium, an idea that was conceived and created by Larry Martinek, from Los Angeles, who spent 40+ years designing, developing, and refining the approach based on his extensive teaching experience. The Mathnasium learning centres follow a revolutionary teaching approach based on a proven curriculum that helps children of any skill level leap ahead.

While teaching his son, Larry found a serious gap in the school’s math curriculum between the knowledge and skill domains. He began to create supplementary textbooks and resources, to support his son in his academic pursuits. What started as an attempt to cater to the ambitious quests of his mathematically skilled son has now grown into a scalable model that is changing the fundamentals of how students and educators perceive mathematics.

His mission to find an approach that would provide children with the strong foundation they needed to succeed found a stronghold on the well-researched curriculum and set of resources that he developed over the years. In time, his methods gained wide popularity and demand. Many Los Angeles schools replaced their textbooks with Larry’s resources and saw an incredible change in their students’ math results. The Mathnasium approach uses a combination of mental, verbal, visual and written techniques to help children build their number sense.

To begin with, all Mathnasium students take a baseline customized assessment which identifies their learning needs and specific skills to be mastered by the child. Based on the assessment review, a customized learning plan is devised for the child, to meet his/her specific learning goals. The Mathnasium model proves ingenious, as it appreciates and develops a child’s individualistic skills and abilities. The learning centres are managed by passionate and caring math tutors who are dedicated in their pursuit towards a common collective mission. The children enjoy learning the Mathnasium way, as they feel confident, safe and in control of their learning.

Mathnasium has scaled to 700 locations since its inception in the year 2002. It has become one of the fastest growing franchises in the world. Larry believes that the success of the model is tied directly to the commitment and hard work of the all the people involved with the franchises. For an entrepreneur, Larry provides a valuable lesson about identifying a strong market need and creating a novel solution to meet the same. The Mathnasium Method which has transformed the way children understand and appreciate math, is set out on its ambitious mission to impact many more children in the years to come.

This article was originally published in The Optimist Citizen – Issue 19 dated 16 FEB ’17.  Get exclusive early access to the stories, SUBSCRIBE NOW.

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