I have had a most fortunate life. I cannot say that there was anything special about it. I was born and raised in Chicago and its suburbs. I have had a deep love of science and engineering for as long as I can remember, taking watches and other mechanical things apart when I was five years old and building wooden models with razors by the time I was 7 or 8. I did not excel in school, but I did ok and found it irrelevant for too much of my day. My love of physics took me to the University of Chicago where a wonderful counselor Sylvia Halperin changed my life’s vector to education. Since the first days I started on that path when I set my goal on revolution, I have sought to combine creativity and technology to enable every child to learn to the fullest extent of their dreams.
I started by teaching physics first in the high school I had attended, Rich Township. It was in those early teaching days that I had the great good fortune to have found the singular idea that led me to the unique artifacts theory of knowledge, After two years and with an itch for some new adventure and climate, I went to Nova High School in Fort Lauderdale to teach Harvard Project Physics and think about the individualization of instruction. Not only did I have a unique teaching opportunity, but once again great good fortune struck, for one of my students decided that I was destined to be her lifelong soul mate and the father of her three children Kori, like her mother an early childhood educator, Brenan, like his father a math educator and curriculum developer, and Arran, a behavioral economist and analytics expert. I started Nova University in science education but could not resist an offer to make educational film loops in Cambridge, MA. This first foray into technology for learning ended after I had helped make about 50 titles, and again good fortune smiled for I quickly got a teaching job in math at a satellite Jr. High School, writing my own curriculum. It broadened my interest from high school physics to K-12 mathematics. I did some teacher training and math curriculum coordination while researching and writing a work on the history and theory of knowledge,
Thanks to an indulgent wife and my passion for the latest technology, I bought an Apple II in 1978 and soon after started Learningways helping design and build interactive tools and platforms like Explore-a-Story, Point of View, ProcessWriter, and MathProcessor. After selling Learningways, I became a chief science officer participating in the design of educational technology products. In 1999, I left Pearson and founded Enablearning, teaming up with Luke Biewald, Larry Reeves and others to develop a next generation technology platform for learning, the EnableMath Program. EnableMath (www.enablemath.com) has been successfully applied in college developmental mathematics programs for the past several years, raising success rates in these courses by 50%. In 2007, I published a book, New Physical Ideas Are Here Needed, outlining my vision for a new technology of education, one that will enable every student to achieve his or her educational goals.
Larry and I founded Sustainablearning, a 501(c)(3)in 2011 to re-vision math education with its What if Math, (www.whatifmath.org) spreadsheet math treating mathematics as an experimental creative science based on functional rather than algorithmic thinking. This curriculum would provide the problem solving skills students will use in their 21st century jobs and life.
With the Lesley University Creativity Commons, I helped develop Sidewalk Math (www.sidewalkmath.com), joining math and art to enable young children to build number sense through physical patternmaking. We started a pilot project at the Fletcher Maynard Academy, a Cambridge Public School, where I am on the Leadership team. I joined the Lesley University Board of Trustees in 2013.
With these three projects reaching maturity, I feel that it is time to dedicate myself and my work toward a clear and I believe eminently achievable goal: to make a productive imagination the goal of our educational systems. Creativity, critical thinking, communication, and cooperation are the skills every child needs for 21st century success. These are the skills of productive imagination.