Senior year of high school I took multivariable calculus. The class, taught by Mr. Schwartzman, consisted of Matt, Michael, Daniel, Connor, Marshall, Adam 1, Adam 2, Andrew, and me (Jackie). Last time I checked, women didn’t make up just 10% of the world.
I know I’m just one of many anecdotes, but I’m quite saddened that my peer group in that class was entirely male (including the teacher). Many claim they are not a “math people” (recently proven to be just a myth anyway). The endlessly frustrating stereotype that girls are naturally not “math people” only adds to this mess.
I have high hopes for our Calculus page to go against the grain here. At the moment, we only have 2 women teachers (out of 14). It’s a personal mission of mine to make math become more accessible to girls, and I think it would help immensely to have a larger female presence on our site. There are great role models in STEM subjects who are doing a great job with this mission (e.g., Danicka McKellar), but I haven’t been able to find great equivalents on YouTube.
If you know of any great women math teachers on YouTube who might be interested in getting involved - please let me know. I’m here to help share educational content with all people, but I don’t want an entire half of the world to feel forgotten.
— Jackie Shlecter, Community Lead, Socratic.org
PS - I dug up the picture of my class from the last day of high school:
The NY Times Opinion Pages’ “In ‘Flipped’ Classrooms, a Method for Mastery” begins with a concept every teacher is familiar with: “In traditional schooling, time is a constant and understanding is a variable.” The central argument of this opinion piece is that the flipped classroom overcomes the time hurdle, so students are able to master concepts more consistently. I know many teachers use our site to flip their classroom, so this article of course drew my attention.
I taught 5th grade math at a charter school (functioned as a subject-specific middle school). I didn’t have the chance to flip my classroom. I did, however, have a chance to experiment with an alternative method for mastery learning. How did we create a “culture of mastery” to ensure students understood the material? Time was a variable at my school: each school day was 7:15am - 5:30pm.
The months preceding the state math test, I had 75 minutes in the morning for each section to teach the material and administer a 10 question quiz. If the students “mastered” the content (got 80% or higher), they were done with math for the day and able to attend their electives at 4:00pm. If the students had not, they attended smaller group sessions in the afternoon in place of their electives. The students struggling the most even attended extra tutoring sessions during independent reading time the following day.
Do I think this method was effective? Absolutely - subjectively and objectively I saw the results. Do I think this method was efficient? Well, ask a 10 year old struggling if he / she enjoys 3+ hours of math each day.
— Jackie Shlecter, Community Lead, Socratic.org
Socratic Teachers and Students,
We are pleased to announce that Organic Chemistry is officially live on Socratic.org! We know this is a subject many, many students have requested on our site, and we’re very happy to finally have it publicly available.
A huge thanks to Leah Fisch (Leah4Sci), Frank Wong, Ron Davis, and Julia Winter (OChemPrep) for helping us build the topic list. Additional thanks to the aforementioned along with Richard Thornley, Professor Heath (Heath G), James Ashenhurst, and Curtis Wang for contributing the first round of videos!
We are so grateful to the teachers who contributed to this subject, and in doing so, pushed us closer to becoming the world’s best learning resource.
We’d like to welcome the newest member of the Socratic team: Jackie Shlecter, our Community Lead! She’s going to be reaching out to many of you personally, and would like to introduce herself:
Teachers, students, and friends,
My name is Jackie Shlecter. I am originally from Los Angeles, CA, and after a few twists and turns have ended up in the great city that is Manhattan. After college, I spent two years in management consulting, but felt my heart was in education. Why? Simply put, I believe that most of the world’s problems can be solved by providing people with solid education. So, I went back to school to get my MA and then taught math at a middle school in Central Harlem in New York City.
As life-changing as it was to teach, I was frustrated by the impermeability of classroom walls. Great teaching was happening outside of my school, and great teaching was happening inside of my school, but neither side was reaping the benefits. A huge amount of time and energy goes into this work, and I wanted to go somewhere I could help make these efforts more mutually accessible.
Socratic believes in the power of crowdsourcing, and that most teachers genuinely want to educate as many students as they can. The marriage of these two ideas makes so much sense to me! We’re on the verge of creating something powerful and far-reaching, and I am happy to be a part of it.
As a former teacher, I know how important it is to build relationships with your students. I want to bring that same spirit to Socratic’s community. I am saying “hello” to you all, with the request that you say “hello” back - tell me why you’re at the site, tell me what ideas you have, tell me how you want to get involved. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking forward to all the “hellos”.
We are building a product and community for the long term: our vision is to cover every topic, in every language, in every teaching style.
In order to build out this vision, we decided to raise a round of funding. As we met with potential investors, it was important to us to find individuals who shared our values and long-term vision.
We’re delighted to announce that we’ve raised a seed round led by Spark Capital, alongside betaworks, Andreessen Horowitz Seed, David Tisch (BoxGroup), John Maloney, and Terrapin Bale.
Our new partners have a deep understanding of the power of online communities, having invested in companies like Twitter, StackExchange, Tumblr and Github.
We’re thrilled to be working with investors who share our vision and passion for communities.
Great teaching is transformative. None of us at Socratic would be where we are today if it weren’t for the teachers who shaped us.
The best teachers have the power to take any idea, no matter how difficult, and make it accessible, relatable, and exciting. But teaching is complex and nuanced, and the best teacher for one student may not be the best for another.
Imagine a world where every time someone wanted to learn something, they found a great teacher who would not only teach them in a way they understood, but inspired them?
When we look at today’s world, we see millions of students trying to learn. When they’re at home and need help, they turn to the Internet. But the Internet is still a far cry from its potential; instead of immediately finding great teachers who explain and inspire, students spend hours looking for the right lesson.
This is why we’ve started Socratic.org.
We see individual teachers starting to create and share great content. We also see what benevolent, open communities like Wikipedia and StackExchange can achieve by focusing on worthy goals.
We want to bring the power of these open communities to teaching. We are building an ever-improving learning resource where anyone with an instinct to teach can contribute, and we invite you to join us.
The Socratic team: Chris, Shreyans, David, Kuba, Tyler, Ahmed.