The Math Inspirations Story

We founded Math Inspirations with the mission of completely changing the student experience with mathematics, with a focus on the student BECOMING a confident, independent thinker rather than just a DOER of math problems.

 

What’s wrong with today’s math education?

 Math has been taught the same way for a hundred years. The lecture starts, the instructor explains definitions, models the concept and then demonstrates examples on the board, maybe with some short-cuts. Students practice repeating the memorized procedures in class and at home and are tested. This is traditional math and, having its origins in the assembly lines of the Industrial Revolution, it can be found in nearly every math classroom in every school and homeschool because it produces easy, immediate and measurable results. Students either get problems right and move on or they re-memorize and repeat the test. It’s completely focused on doing math problems and getting right answers. Its goal is to build students into replaceable, efficient calculators. Traditional math, however, comes at a huge cost. It removes discovery and student ownership. It takes away student independence, creative and original thinking and teaches there is only one right way to solve a problem. It propagates the myth you are either a math person or not. Traditional math has built the myth that we need a book, a teacher or a video to teach us and tell us when we are right or wrong…that we can’t discover truth on our own.

The Math Inspirations philosophy

We believe math should be a tool, a playing field, to train our students to think independent of an instructor, discover truth and communicate their reasoning in clear and original ways. To achieve this goal, we created the Discovery Method, which trains students to apply the scientific method in discovering, observing, testing and proving their own definitions and theorems. Instead of being told what the term quadrilateral means, students can use our Unit 5 Definitions Creation page to create and prove their own definition. Instead of being told how to multiply two numbers, students can use our Unit 2 to create their own method of multiplication. By repeating the Discovery Method through every definition and every k-8 theorem, students become more independent, more confident and more powerful thinkers. We believe this process of students using the Discovery Method to become great thinkers is best realized with the companionship of a trained mentor and that the flexibility and personalized nature of homeschooling provides the best environment for student success.

If we have instant access to calculators, why do we need to include math in our education?

We struggled with this question while working in the public school system. If all we care about is students passing tests, the ACT and SAT included, then why don’t we just teach the basics and spend the rest of the time training students how to use a calculator to pass those tests (which is the goal of nearly every traditional math program)? The truth is, that kind of math is now obsolete. The need for human calculators is gone. We need thinkers, observers, creative problem solvers, people who confidently discover truth and can communicate with clarity. We believe math can be the tool to do all of that. We follow Einstein’s admonition “The development of general ability for independent thinking and judgement should always be placed foremost, not the acquisition of special knowledge. If a person masters the fundamentals of his subject and has learned to think and work independently, he will surely find his way and besides will better be able to adapt himself to progress and changes than the person whose training principally consists in the acquiring of detailed knowledge.”

How does Math Inspirations help students become self-reliant thinkers?

In developing the Discovery Method and student curriculum, we established core principles. First, we would never tell the student what to do. There are no examples, rather carefully crafted experiences for students to observe and discover. Second, the burden of knowing what is right and wrong is on the student. Students should have the tools and training to know independently if an idea or solution is true. Third, we would require the student to prove everything. Every definition and hypothesis is to be questioned and challenged. Fourth, students would master concepts by first exploring context and then developing the procedure, opposite of traditional math. By focusing first on context, students can create a model of the concept that makes the most sense to them rather than forcibly memorizing the teacher’s model. Fifth, we would focus on mastery. Sixth, we would follow a natural progression flexible to the time availability of any student, not a grade-level or timed approach. Following these principles, we’ve seen students around the world with different natural abilities, backgrounds and motivations own their math experience and become confident thinkers.

Why is it called Math Inspirations?

Emily’s math inspiration is her mother, Candy Ralphs. She was a beloved elementary school teacher, incredible mentor and math enthusiast. Sadly, she passed in 2009 after a long battle with breast cancer. In 2013, as we were in the beginnings of formalizing our efforts to help mentor parents and developing the Discovery Method, we stumbled across several math resources on Candy’s computer from her years of teaching and graduate work. Among the resources we found was a book of games she had collected entitled Hands On Math, as well as a business card which read “Candy Ralphs, Math Inspirations.”  Unbeknownst to anyone in the family, about a year before her passing, Candy had planned a company she called Math Inspirations to teach parents how to help their children find joy in mathematics through play and problem solving.  In her loving memory, we’ve carried on her legacy by adopting the name and mission of her Math Inspirations and hope to inspire others just as she did.

Meet co-founders Emily and Joe Dyke

Emily Dyke

Wife, Mother, Homeschooler, Co-Founder Of Math Inspirations

The daughter of an incredible elementary teacher, Emily investigated other pursuits but was drawn back into teaching at university. She dove right into the Mathematics Education program and quickly found she had discovered her passion in life. Emily mastered the art of teaching a deep, conceptual understanding of math focused on discovery,  problem solving and critical thinking. After three years of study, Emily began teaching high school math in Yuma, Arizona. After moving to a Phoenix suburb in 2012, she began mentoring local homeschool students, creating the Discovery Method and training parents to use the Discovery Method in their homes. Emily is living her dream of being an incredible wife, a homeschool mom to three amazing kids and using Math Inspirations to empower homeschooling families around the world.

Joe Dyke

Husband, Father, Homeschooler, Co-Founder Of Math Inspirations

Joe, being raised by two public school teachers, grew to love all things learning.  At university, after starting to pursue a degree in mathematics, Joe found a new passion studying Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. He found his way back to mathematics and teaching through the Arizona Teaching Fellows program where he was selected to teach high school math in San Luis, Arizona. He became disheartened by the public system and the traditional math he had to teach. Through all these struggles, he and Emily continued to develop the Discovery Method and how to change the student math experience. After three years of teaching, he joined Emily in 2013 in growing Math Inspirations and is living his dream of being a husband and father and helping homeschooling families around the world.

Families around the world are thriving with Math Inspirations

Meet a few of our families and hear how Math Inspirations has impacted their lives and homeschooling.

The Math Inspirations Story

We founded Math Inspirations with the mission of completely changing the student experience with mathematics, with a focus on the student BECOMING a confident, independent thinker rather than just a DOER of math problems.

 

What’s wrong with today’s math education?

 Math has been taught the same way for a hundred years. The lecture starts, the instructor explains definitions, models the concept and then demonstrates examples on the board, maybe with some short-cuts. Students practice repeating the memorized procedures in class and at home and are tested. This is traditional math and, having its origins in the assembly lines of the Industrial Revolution, it can be found in nearly every math classroom in every school and homeschool because it produces easy, immediate and measurable results. Students either get problems right and move on or they re-memorize and repeat the test. It’s completely focused on doing math problems and getting right answers. Its goal is to build students into replaceable, efficient calculators. Traditional math, however, comes at a huge cost. It removes discovery and student ownership. It takes away student independence, creative and original thinking and teaches there is only one right way to solve a problem. It propagates the myth you are either a math person or not. Traditional math has built the myth that we need a book, a teacher or a video to teach us and tell us when we are right or wrong…that we can’t discover truth on our own.

The Math Inspirations philosophy

We believe math should be a tool, a playing field, to train our students to think independent of an instructor, discover truth and communicate their reasoning in clear and original ways. To achieve this goal, we created the Discovery Method, which trains students to apply the scientific method in discovering, observing, testing and proving their own definitions and theorems. Instead of being told what the term quadrilateral means, students can use our Unit 5 Definitions Creation page to create and prove their own definition. Instead of being told how to multiply two numbers, students can use our Unit 2 to create their own method of multiplication. By repeating the Discovery Method through every definition and every k-8 theorem, students become more independent, more confident and more powerful thinkers. We believe this process of students using the Discovery Method to become great thinkers is best realized with the companionship of a trained mentor and that the flexibility and personalized nature of homeschooling provides the best environment for student success.

If we have instant access to calculators, why do we need to include math in our education?

We struggled with this question while working in the public school system. If all we care about is students passing tests, the ACT and SAT included, then why don’t we just teach the basics and spend the rest of the time training students how to use a calculator to pass those tests (which is the goal of nearly every traditional math program)? The truth is, that kind of math is now obsolete. The need for human calculators is gone. We need thinkers, observers, creative problem solvers, people who confidently discover truth and can communicate with clarity. We believe math can be the tool to do all of that. We follow Einstein’s admonition “The development of general ability for independent thinking and judgement should always be placed foremost, not the acquisition of special knowledge. If a person masters the fundamentals of his subject and has learned to think and work independently, he will surely find his way and besides will better be able to adapt himself to progress and changes than the person whose training principally consists in the acquiring of detailed knowledge.”

How does Math Inspirations help students become self-reliant thinkers?

In developing the Discovery Method and student curriculum, several principles governed our process. First, we would never tell the student what to do. There are no examples, rather carefully crafted experiences for students to observe and discover. Second, the burden of knowing what is right and wrong is on the student. Students should have the tools and training to know independently if an idea or solution is true. Third, we would require the student to prove everything. Every definition and hypothesis is to be questioned and challenged. Fourth, students would master concepts by first exploring context and then developing the procedure, opposite of traditional math. By focusing first on context, students can create a model of the concept that makes the most sense to them rather than forcibly memorizing the teacher’s model. Fifth, we would focus on mastery. Sixth, we would follow a natural progression flexible to the time availability of any student, not a grade-level or timed approach. Following these principles, we’ve seen students around the world with different natural abilities, backgrounds and motivations succeed in owning their math experience and becoming confident thinkers.

Why is it called Math Inspirations?

Emily’s math inspiration is her mother, Candy Ralphs. She was a beloved elementary school teacher, incredible mentor and math enthusiast. Sadly, she passed in 2009 after a long battle with breast cancer. In 2013, as we were in the beginnings of formalizing our efforts to help mentor parents and developing the Discovery Method, we stumbled across several math resources on Candy’s computer from her years of teaching and graduate work. Among the resources we found was a book of games she had collected entitled Hands On Math, as well as a business card which read “Candy Ralphs, Math Inspirations.”  Unbeknownst to anyone in the family, about a year before her passing, Candy had planned a company she called Math Inspirations to teach parents how to help their children find joy in mathematics through play and problem solving.  In her loving memory, we’ve carried on her legacy by adopting the name and mission of her Math Inspirations and hope to inspire others just as she did.

Meet co-founders Emily and Joe Dyke

Emily Dyke

Wife, Mother, Homeschooler, Co-Founder Of Math Inspirations

The daughter of an incredible elementary teacher, Emily investigated other pursuits but was drawn back into teaching at university. She dove right into the Mathematics Education program and quickly found she had discovered her passion in life. Emily mastered the art of teaching a deep, conceptual understanding of math focused on discovery,  problem solving and critical thinking. After three years of study, Emily began teaching high school math in Yuma, Arizona. After moving to a Phoenix suburb in 2012, she began mentoring local homeschool students, creating the Discovery Method and training parents to use the Discovery Method in their homes. Emily is living her dream of being an incredible wife, a homeschool mom to three amazing kids and using Math Inspirations to empower homeschooling families around the world.

Joe Dyke

Husband, Father, Homeschooler, Co-Founder Of Math Inspirations

Joe’s love affair with learning began at a young age, being the son of devout teachers.  As a volunteer missionary after high school, he developed a passion for effective and impactful teaching. Joe studied Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies and found his way back to teaching through the Arizona Teaching Fellows program. Joe was selected to teach high school math in San Luis, Arizona for two years where he challenged the traditional education system while he and Emily continued to develop their ideas of what math education should look like. After moving to the Phoenix area and teaching one more year of high school math, he joined Emily full-time in growing Math Inspirations. He is living his dream of being a husband and father and helping homeschooling families around the world.

Families around the world are thriving with Math Inspirations

Meet a few of our families and hear how Math Inspirations has impacted their lives and homeschooling.

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