The conference will include the esteemed speakers listed below:
Daniel Ansari received his PhD from University College London in 2003. Presently, Daniel Ansari is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology and the Brain & Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, where he heads the Numerical Cognition Laboratory (www.numericalcognition.org). Ansari and his team explore the developmental trajectory underlying both the typical and atypical development of numerical and mathematical skills, using both behavioral and neuroimaging methods. He has a keen interest in exploring connections between cognitive psychology, neuroscience and education and served as the President of the International Mind, Brain and Education Society (IMBES) from 2014-16. Ansari has received early career awards from the Society of Research in Child Development, the American Psychological Association as well as the Government of Ontario. In 2014, Ansari was named as a member of the inaugural cohort of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2015 he received the E.W.R Steacie Memorial Fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Sonia is the Vice-President of Education at Indspire, the Indigenous-led charity that inspires the educational achievement of Indigenous Peoples, their families, and communities through the delivery of financial awards, program delivery, and resource sharing. She is a previous high school teacher and founder of Ndinawe Transitional School in Winnipeg. A graduate from the University of Waterloo and the University of Manitoba, Sonia has spent the last 18 years living in the north end of Winnipeg, working in educational and social services. During that time, she served as Director of the Point Douglas Revitalization Initiative, where she oversaw implementation of integrated service delivery in one of the poorest areas in the county, and directed one of the largest child welfare agencies in the City of Winnipeg. Sonia has also developed second-stage housing resources for youth and an innovative, college-certified youth care worker training program for women exiting the sex trade. She was the last elected Aboriginal school trustee in the largest school division in Winnipeg.
As an Aboriginal woman, Sonia believes that fair and equitable educational and support systems must be in place if we are to graduate the Indigenous and Canadian leaders of tomorrow.
Brent Davis was born and raised in northern Alberta, where he also taught secondary school mathematics and science through most of the 1980s. Upon completion of graduate studies in the mid-90s, he began his university career at UBC, then moved to York University, then the University of Alberta (where he was Canada Research Chair in Mathematics Education and the Ecology of Learning), then back to UBC (as David Robitaille Chair in Mathematics Education), and finally to the University of Calgary (as Distinguished Research Chair in Mathematics Education). He currently holds a Werklund Professorship.
Brent Davis’s research is focused on the educational relevance of recent developments in the cognitive and complexity sciences. He has published books and articles in the areas of mathematics learning and teaching, curriculum theory, teacher education, epistemology, and action research. The principal foci of his research are teachers’ disciplinary knowledge of mathematics and the sorts of structures and experiences that might support mathematics learning among teachers. He has authored or co-authored five books and his scholarly writings have appeared in Science, Harvard Educational Review, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, and other leading journals.
Dr. John Mighton is a playwright turned mathematician and author who founded JUMP Math as a charity in 2001. His work in fostering numeracy and in building children’s self-confidence through success in math has been widely recognized. He has been named a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year, an Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year for Canada, an Ashoka Fellow, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has received three honorary doctorates.
John developed JUMP Math to address both the tragedy of low expectations for students and that of math anxiety in teachers. What makes JUMP Math unique is the premise that anyone can learn math and anyone can teach it. His national best-seller, The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child, describes his approach and successes with the program.
John began tutoring children in math as a financially-struggling playwright, though he had abandoned the subject for years after having nearly failed first-year calculus. His success in helping students achieve levels of success that teachers and parents had thought impossible fueled his belief that everyone has great untapped potential. The experience of repeatedly witnessing the heart-breaking paradox of high potential and low achievement led him to conclude that the widely-held assumption that mathematical talent is a rare genetic gift has created a self-fulfilling prophecy of low achievement. A generally high level of math anxiety among many elementary school teachers, itself an outcome of that belief system, creates an additional challenge.
John had to overcome his own “massive math anxiety” before making the decision to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Toronto. He was later awarded an NSERC Fellowship for postdoctoral research in knot and graph theory. He is currently a Fellow of the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and has taught mathematics at the University of Toronto. He has also lectured in philosophy at McMaster University, where he received a master’s degree in philosophy.
As a mathematician and a playwright, John believes that there are more connections between the arts and sciences than people generally see, as mathematicians are often led by a sense of beauty or elegance in their work. His own plays have been performed across Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States, and he has won several national awards including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, the Dora Award, the Chalmers Award, and the Siminovitch Prize. In a twist of fate, he played Matt Damon’s math tutor in the 1997 movie, Good Will Hunting.
Dr. Tracy Solomon is a Developmental Psychologist and Health Systems Research Scientist in the Child and Youth Mental Health Research Unit at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). She received a BSc Hon. from Trinity College at the University of Toronto, an MA from the University of Toronto and a PhD from the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago and as a Research Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She joined the Child and Youth Mental Health Research Unit (formerly Community Health Systems Resource Group) at Sick Kids in 2007.
Dr. Solomon is primarily interested in early symbolic and spatial reasoning and in the development of mathematical skills. She is keenly interested in how research in the cognitive and neurosciences can inform classroom practice. Hence, most of her research takes place in mainstream preschool and elementary school classrooms. Her primary line of work focuses on identifying effective ways to teach children mathematics. She has been involved in a large-scale study investigating the effectives of two different approaches to math instruction (JUMP Math and problem-based mathematics), in diverse learners. She is also investigating the impact of different interventions on mathematical skills learning and recovery in long-term cancer patients who have returned to school. In a secondary line of work, she has been investigating the impact on self-regulation skills of two preschool curricula (Playing to Learn and TOOLS of the Mind).
Dr. Solomon is passionate about making the scientific evidence on early learning in general, and on early math learning in particular, accessible to educators. She enjoys working with teachers to determine how to translate evidence into effective classroom practice.
Professor Yuly Billig comes from the Russian school of mathematics and received his Ph.D. from Moscow State University. He is the author of 40 research papers specializing in Algebra. In his younger years, Yuly participated in “Math Circles” – a math enrichment system set up in the Soviet Union for elementary and high school students. He has also competed in Math Olympiad at the national level.
Professor Billig is Director of the Math Enrichment Centre at Carleton University. Today the Centre offers eleven different math enrichment courses and programs for students in grades three to twelve. Over five hundred students participate in the activities of the centre on a weekly basis.
Liz Barrett is JUMP Math’s Manager of Outreach & Teacher Support for British Columbia and First Nations. Hailing from South Africa, where she had been teaching for many years, Liz landed in Toronto in 2003. After moving to a village in Whistler, British Columbia, Liz came into contact with a First Nations Community in Mount Currie that ended up shaping her life in Canada. It was at this community’s school that she first introduced JUMP Math and volunteered to support John Mighton in the early days of the charity. Today, Liz travels extensively across Canada and the USA guided by her love of working with teachers and parents to support them in teaching math well. John’s book, The Myth of Ability, resonated with Liz, as in her career she has seen first-hand the incredible power of praise, combined with developing children’s self-confidence so that they become resilient learners unafraid of taking chances or making mistakes. Liz was recognized in 2016 by Indspire for her work supporting Indigenous students, families and communities as an Indigenous Education Partner.