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The Math Guru Vanessa Vakharia Wants Us To Make Failing Our BFF

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In This Episode

Most of the time, math teaches us that there are right and wrong answers. It’s positive to succeed, and it’s negative to fail. But is this attitude leading us to limit what kids feel they can learn? Are we causing anxiety and not adequately preparing our kids to find the positive angles of how you can learn from failure? Vanessa Vakharia uses her strong, Lady Gaga-esque attitude to highlight how we need to move away from “math person” stereotypes. She emphasises how important it is to experience failure on the road to success.

Episode Highlights - Your 5 Minute Path

First 5 Minutes
We meet Vanessa Vahkaria, and Dave explains the connection between them with his son has been on Canada’s Smartest Person Junior and Vanessa also appeared on the show. Vanessa explains what she does for a career with Greg and Dave agreeing she is disrupting the idea of what is typical for a “math person”.

5 – 10 Minutes
Vanessa speaks to how her goal is to break down this idea of what “math person” is. Greg connects with this sharing her a story about his daughter and her experience with math and music. The group discuss how we categorize people in their educational journeys.

10 – 15 Minutes
Dave asks Vanessa about making failure her BFF. Vanessa explains how making failure your BFF can help students question, experiment and explore. Vanessa explains how she has learned the most through her failures.

15 – 20 Minutes
Dave asks Vanessa about her public speaking, and he talks about how he enjoys how she’s using her experiences to connect with her students. Vanessa introduces her book, called Math Hacks.

20 – 25 Minutes
Dave and Vanessa talk about teaching style and how that impacts understanding. Vanessa shares a failure story related to her band and how to find her on social media. Greg explains a current project he is working on called The Mars Collective.

25 – 30 Minutes
Dave explains how his son learned a lot from his time on Canada’s Smartest Person Junior and how that showed him how failure came into play in that experience.

Vanessa Vakharia

Vanessa Vakharia

Vanessa is the founder and director of The Math Guru, a super cool boutique math & science tutoring studio in Toronto. She is also the author of Math Hacks, a new book that totally makes math fun, stress-free and relatable for young kids and parents – actually.

Her #goals are to be Lady-Gaga-famous and to totally change math culture so that STEM is finally as cool and accessible as basically every single Taylor Swift song ever. She failed Grade 11 math twice, which was the best thing that ever happened to her. Sidenote but totally relevant: Vanessa is a founding member of Toronto indie-rock band Goodnight, Sunrise. Mindy Kaling is her idol and Vanessa believes that she should be yours too.  

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