Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Mathematical Mindsets - The Interplay of Identity & Knowledge in Learning & Life


Have you ever achieved well but had the nagging feeling you don’t really understand? Have you ever questioned why so many people fear and dislike mathematics, or other subjects? Or, why women and girls often opt out of mathematics when they get the chance, feeling they do not “belong” in STEM? Our world has changed dramatically in recent years - particularly with the availability of technology, and new understandings of the brain, yet many classrooms look strikingly similar to those in the 18th century. This seminar will consider the latest research in learning, neuroscience, and mindset to consider how learners develop mathematical mindsets and positive learning identities. We will also learn together in these ways, encountering quantitative ideas in a visual, creative, and connected way. We will consider the nature of the mathematics knowledge needed to be effective in the world, including ideas in data science. Students will spend time investigating cases of teaching and learning and developing new ideas to help others learn. This seminar is for students who are interested in education, and for those who would like to unlock their own learning potential at Stanford. We will meet together for a class dinner, and take a field trip to classrooms if possible, and to the Exploratorium, to see maths in action. The final project for this class will involve designing or creating tools for education or interviewing students to help discover new insights that will help others learn.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Jo Boaler

"My name is Jo Boaler and I am passionate about changing people’s relationships with maths. If you are at all unsure about your maths potential, or have had bad maths experiences, I would love to work with you and help you see maths - and your own potential - in a different way. I started a few years ago to give teachers, parents and students resources they need to inspire students and challenge the inequities of the school system. I am from England and my favorite past-times include watching football here and in England (you may call it soccer), swimming, kayaking and skiing. I care deeply about education and teaching. One of my favorite parts of teaching at Stanford is teaching and working with undergraduates, many of whom keep working at youcubed on research and project design, and stay connected with us for years ahead." 

Dr Jo Boaler is the Nomellini & Olivier Professor of Education at Stanford University. Former roles have included being the Marie Curie Professor of Mathematics Education in England, and a maths teacher in London comprehensive schools. Her PhD won the national award for educational research in the UK. She is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (Great Britain), and a former president of the International Organization for Women and Mathematics Education (IOWME). She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation ‘Early Career Award’, the NCSM Kay Gilliland Equity Award (2014) and the CMC Walter Denham Mathematics Leadership award (2015). She is the author of eighteen books and numerous research articles. She is a White House presenter on women and girls. She recently formed to give teachers, parents and students the resources and ideas they need to inspire and excite students about mathematics. Her work has been published in the New York Times, TIME magazine, The Telegraph, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal and many other news outlets. She was recently named one of the 8 educators “changing the face of education” by the BBC and is now co-leading a K-12 data science initiative. Her latest book is, Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead & Live without Barriers, published by Harper Collins.

@joboaler (twitter) and jo.boaler (instagram)