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The Outnumber Project: A Statement From ThamesCatalyst

connect@thamescatalyst.co.uk, 7 July 2020
Flexible Minds, Digital Divide, Equal Opportunity

The current state of mathematics education varies across the globe. Whilst high-flying nations are praised for their innovative teaching methods and coveted outcomes, other countries struggle to integrate similar practices into their curriculums.

At ThamesCatalyst, our vision is to utilise the latest technological advancements to revolutionise mathematics learning. The Outnumber Project aims to level the mathematical playing field, creating an equal learning opportunity for mathematics students worldwide.

The Outnumber Project aims to level the mathematical playing field, creating an equal learning opportunity for mathematics students worldwide.

In order to achieve more balance, we’ve taken steps to understand & identify the driving forces behind our current two-speed education system that is widening gaps in both the education and industry sectors.

The Widening Gap of Our Two-Speed Education System

Today’s unaligned educational practices continue to create international educational disparities, further widening gaps in society. Socioeconomic status (SES), implementation of technology and cognitive strategies are just some of the factors perpetuating educational inequality on a global scale. Our two-speed education system is no longer serving students or the future of innovation.

Some communities are currently implementing effective strategies that develop flexible and innovative learners. However, as we explored in our article ‘Changing Role of Mathematics in a Digital Economy’, algorithmic thinking is still prevalent, creating inflexible minds that struggle to adapt to the variety of mathematical problems faced in the workplace and everyday life.

However, as we explored in our article ‘Changing Role of Mathematics in a Digital Economy’, algorithmic thinking is still prevalent, creating inflexible minds that struggle to adapt to the variety of mathematical problems faced in the workplace and everyday life.

The consequences of this is an elite set of students driving innovation and a cohort of students ill-equipped to enter advancing job markets. With a shortage of learners and workers already observed in STEM-related fields, the two-speed education system only further exacerbates this issue. Without drastic reform, we may find society lacks the workforce required to power future advancements in STEM industries.

Although the growing number of Silicon Valley start-ups may overshadow the growing concerns around student mathematical outcomes, these digital-oriented hotspots could also be playing a role in widening socioeconomic gaps.

How Big Tech Further Generates Inequalities

In the last 20 years, we have witnessed a meteoric rise in the digital segment of the economy powered by relatively few large tech companies. Startups have arguably made employment in this sector more accessible than ever, with an increasing number of remote job roles and a meritocratic hiring process.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that people who are succeeding in these work environments are often coming from communities and families that are predisposed to creating flexible learners and mathematical thinkers.

Highly-paid application engineers contrast greatly with essential, yet much lower paid, warehouse workers. At a very fundamental level, their differences can be attributed to their different levels of mathematical ability which manifest similarly in the wider economic context.

Lower paid workers are likely to live in areas of lower SES, sending their children to more disadvantaged schools where they’re often educated to a lesser degree than those in high SES communities. The latter, conversely, are more likely to be educated to a higher standard, unlocking access to employment in high-paid, high-tech jobs, and thus the cycle continues.

Disparities in mathematics education contribute to digital divide within communities.

Industry-led initiatives that support lesser-educated workers in gaining the skills to enter higher-paying workforces would help to close the gaps, but real change needs to start with education. This is something we recognise here at ThamesCatalyst.

The Outnumber Project: Building a Modern Mathematics Application

Whilst the mathematical demands of a big tech employee will be greater than those placed on workers in other job roles and industries, maths, undeniably, plays an intrinsic role in society. We need to not only adequately instil mathematical knowledge into our children, but also mathematical literacy, the ability to apply that knowledge in a range of contexts; the real-life manifestation of the subject.

In our bid to close gaps in outcomes we have recognised 3 key factors that, combined together, will bring to life the aspirational vision we have for mathematics learning.

Our Outnumber Project puts forwards a world-class mathematics curriculum combined with advances in educational neuroscience and artificial intelligence to develop a learning platform that takes each child through their unique journey of developing numerical and reasoning skills.

In our bid to close gaps in outcomes we have recognised 3 key factors that, when brought together, will bring to life the aspirational vision we have for mathematics learning:

1. A curriculum that focuses on 21st-century skills

Mathematics is more than the sum of the topics that make up its curriculum. Numerical reasoning, number sense, research, inquiry, collaboration, creativity, information-use and critical thinking are all skills that define a well-rounded mathematician who is able to adapt to everyday mathematical scenarios and demands. Our application appreciates the importance of context to learning, adding richness and reality to concepts to facilitate a deeper understanding.

2. Applying knowledge from cognitive science & educational psychology to mathematics learning

Understanding our brains and how we learn is fundamental to successfully acquiring knowledge and skills that serve us well into the future. By applying a range of cognitive-based learning strategies, The Outnumber Project maximises on both user engagement and knowledge retention for an immersive and productive learning experience.

3. Delivering individualised learning experiences using AI-powered learning platforms

The uniquity of AI means that technology can play a key role in tailoring the learning experience for each user. Addressing gaps in individual knowledge makes way for self-paced learning that neither holds children back or pushes them too quickly. Our learning application adapts to the student, creating a learning environment that is motivating and appropriately scaled, leaving no child behind.

We consider how we cannot predict the mathematical problems of the future. It’s why context and numerical reasoning are vital skills The Outnumber Project helps to develop, ensuring flexible, adaptable minds.

Our ambition is to close educational gaps borne out of the existing two-speed education system with a modern mathematics application that is widely accessible, user-friendly and forward-thinking. We consider how we cannot predict the mathematical problems of the future. It’s why context and numerical reasoning are vital skills The Outnumber Project helps to develop, ensuring flexible, adaptable minds.

Through an innovative blend of AI, cognitive learning strategies and the prioritisation of 21st-century mathematical skills, our application prepares students with the knowledge, know-how and resilience to adapt and overcome the mathematical challenges that lie ahead.

If you want to learn more about The Outnumber Project please get in touch at connect@thamescatalyst.co.uk. We would love to hear from you!

Outnumber is a project sponsored by London-based ThamesCatalyst Digital Ventures. Combining digital innovation, data science & applied AI we develop modern scalable platforms and user-friendly applications that bring real changes in social and business outcomes.

Outnumber is built on the Qognitiveᵀᴹ stack which is an accelerator platform for AI and digital solutions to business and social challenges.

© 2021 ThamesCatalyst

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