Redefine access, reset attitudes
The well-documented crisis in Australian school mathematics is felt most acutely at the underprivileged end of the socio-economic spectrum. It is in those contexts that The Institute for Enquiring Minds seeks to intervene, supporting under-resourced but enthusiastic young learners with free one-on-one mathematical mentoring. There is no doubt that fundamental policy changes will be required to properly address the broader problem, but the children of our most financially strained families cannot afford the luxury of waiting for a political fix.
What we need is a movement of mathematicians, proudly passionate about their subject, putting the lie to the stereotype of the socially inept geek as they strive for social justice. If mathematicians can't do something tangible to help solve the problems in maths education then who can?
This will be the core activity of The Institute - the provision of free, high-quality, one-on-one maths mentoring to under-resourced high school students eager to improve their maths skills. Our central mission is to redefine access to personalised mathematical support and in so doing reset attitudes towards mathematics and mathematicians.
But what is a movement if not a community forged around a shared vision? Fulfilling the promise of our name, and to establish a genuine community of socially engaged enquiring minds, The Institute also programs innovative cross-disciplinary events aimed at enriching the intellectual and cultural lives of our volunteers, our students, their families, as well the broader community in which we operate. Covering music, art, science and of course mathematics, these events will establish The Institute as an alternative and accessible platform for intellectual cross-fertilization. A modern day, radical salon, dedicated to challenging preconceptions and deconstructing prejudices.
As the movement grows in size and momentum we will emerge as a uniquely well-informed voice in the educational policy debate, particularly as it relates to mathematics. The Institute will represent a new kind of advocacy, helping shape consequential practical policy whilst maintaining its can-do roots illuminating mathematical pathways for disadvantaged young people.