Welcome to the MALEI Institute's
site branch ...home of
The (MACS) Project for Teaching and Learning
Mathematics As Common Sense
This site branch is being remodeled;
some links might be temporarily inactive.
The MACS Mission:
The MACS Project focuses on how American humans most naturally learn the mathematics that they encounter in normal daily life ... and with why so many have so much trouble with it ... and with what can be done toward improving that situation. It was commissioned by Tulsa's MALEI Mathematics Institute to help the nation deal with today's most tragic and fundamental malady of American education in mathematics.
What went wrong? For most students in American schools and colleges, what currently is being taught under the name of "mathematics" makes little mathematical sense to the students, themselves. As a result, about half of American adults achieve a level of functional personal mathematical intelligence below what could reasonably be expected within normal children of age eleven. Parents, teachers, and mentors with such deficiencies are ill-prepared to be of mathematical help to the children they serve.
A nationwide epidemic! Even worse than widespread mathematical illiteracy is the contagious diseases that spreads among children, often from adults. At least half of American adults are victims of latent or active MLD [Mathematics-Learning Distress: confusion, anxiety, withdrawal, fear, depression, phobia, etc.]. MLD inhibits its victims' further education in fields that require higher levels of mathematical intelligence. It undermines their academic self-images, their scholastic self-confidence, their vocational and educational aspirations, and their potentials for successful lives. It also is a major cause of students' dropouts from schools and colleges. While MLD does not actually cause poverty, it is a major deterrent to escaping from poverty.
The scholastic myth! American schools have induced the widespread American belief that normal humans often lack the mathematical aptitude needed for adequately digesting "mathematics" into personal common sense. That myth persists and spreads only because scholastic educators have misled the public into hanging the name of "mathematics" on whatever students encounter in scholastic "mathematics" courses. In reality, every normal adult personally has far more real-world mathematical aptitude than he or she will ever need ... even for achieving college degrees in mathematics. But the poor instructional quality of the American core-curriculum in (scholastic) "mathematics" makes the subject so non-common-sensible that most students sooner or later are led to believe that they have weak mathematical potentials. The culprit is the national curriculum.
Re-defining "mathematics": Throughout the advent of compulsory education, scholastic educators have continually re-defined the scholastic meanings of "mathematics." In its original meanings, the word meant "an art of learning" through internal reasoning about what the senses perceived. That is still how mathematical knowledge and powers are used and progressively developed in the real world, including the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions and industries. But what most American students now experience in their "mathematics" courses has gone far astray from real-world mathematics. As the scholastically distorted meanings of "mathematics" are carried into adulthood, those become the lay public's meanings of the word ... and parents' and teachers' meanings ... and the meanings held by new generations of legislators and of administrators of scholastic educational programs. Unfortunately, that progressive deviation from the reality-meaning of the words has been worse than counter-productive. It has been downright unhealthy for the nation and for many millions of its children and adults.
The challenge for MACS: The challenge of rescuing America and Americans from damages and threats of mathematically non-common-sensible educational practices is far too huge an undertaking for this project or for its parent organization. But the MACS Project can open the way for the needed national movement for making core-curricular mathematics fully common-sensible to almost everyone. That requires generating scientifically reliable knowledge about why and how to produce that catalytic effect, disseminating that knowledge, and visibly demonstrating that, how, and why such improvements can result in huge huge public benefits.
The Clinic: The heart of the MACS Project is its MALEI Mathematical Learning Clinic. Its operations are in the mode of "the medical model", rather than the mode of traditional educational counseling or tutorial services. The Clinic's instructional services specialize in providing mathematical comprehension therapy for adult and young victims of MLD, and in family services for the prevention of MLD. Although a genuine instructional service, the Clinic also is a research and development center. It uses clinical case-studies for research in natural learning of mathematics, and in the detection, causes, diagnosis, treatments, reduction, and cures of MLD. It uses that information to design and develop new and improved MACS-instructional technologies and treatments of mathematical topics which commonly are troublesome for large numbers of learners.
Demonstration Educational Programs: The Project strives to identify and feature instructional programs hold promise of catalyzing widespread efforts to make curricular mathematics common-sensible to students and their families. One model is the instructional services of the MALEI Clinic. Various other models have been explored, including math clubs and math labs for youth and seminars for adults. The most promising are adult-education workshops that begin with audio-visual presentations of MACS-instructive activities, and they engage participants in actually performing such activities. Based on that model, the MACS Project now is assembling a multi-organization,Tulsa-OK Mathematical Literacy Project. Its purpose is to develop and conduct a vide-driven, Tulsa-wide program of community education in basic-literacy Mathematics As Common Sense. Designed to reach even impoverished, math-fearing, math-illiterate adults and youth, that "MatheLite Program also will demonstrate how schools and colleges can make scholastic mathematics common-sensible to their students.
Publications and presentations: Especially through its clinical R&D, but also through its demonstration educational activities, the MACS Project acquires much professional knowledge which also should be shared with the rest of the nation's mathematics educators. Most of what it the project shares is about how to make normally troublesome topics common-sensible to the learners, themselves. But as one of the nation's few organizations well versed about MLD, the Project also contributes in that field. It publishes its findings not only on this website, but also through professional organizations and professional papers. In another mode of sharing, the Project sometimes is represented at conventions of mathematicians or mathematics educators, where it normally makes PowerPoint presentations of its papers.
Professional leadership: Apart from its contributions to national and regional professional associations, the Project's efforts to interest curricular educational programs in MACS-instruction has been limited to its own locales. First in Honolulu, and then in Tulsa, it became evident that schools cannot become the frontiers of progress for education in MACS. So, instead, the Project's local leadership efforts are through networking with community-service organizations that serve educationally disadvantaged youth and adults who sorely need what MACS can offer.