By Louis Moser
Brazos County is the birthplace of Reasoning Mind, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the way kids learn math. This inspiring, high-tech, math education program currently delivers a world-class curriculum to children across the country.
Reasoning Mind’s co-founders, Alex and Julia Khachatryan and their son George, moved from Russia to College Station in 1990, where Alex served as a visiting professor at Texas A&M University. While there, Alex and Julia began searching for something that would inspire George to develop a passion for mathematics. George did well in school, but was bored in math class. Not until George attended a summer math camp did he develop a love of math and the goal to become a mathematician like his parents. It was an event that changed the trajectory of the Khachatryans’ lives.
George’s newfound love of math was the result of the innovative way the math camp had presented the subject, and Alex and Julia knew that children across the country might never get the same chance. Research shows that the United States ranks very low in studies comparing mathematics achievement across countries. Part of the reason is that many U.S. schools are not using the techniques used by countries with higher math achievement.
The Khachatryans made it their mission to inspire all children to love math. This led to the creation of Reasoning Mind, a nonprofit organization that develops online programs to teach kids mathematics, using the same techniques used in the world’s most successful math classrooms. Because the curriculum is online, it can determine the strengths and weaknesses of each student, then differentiate instruction to address each student’s individual needs. The engaging student interface makes the subject matter come alive, bringing enjoyment to the process of learning math.
Reasoning Mind offers programs covering Grades 2 through 7, which were used by more than 100,000 students across the country during the 2014-15 school year. A curriculum for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 1 will be ready for the 2016-17 school year, and Reasoning Mind also has new STAAR Readiness programs for elementary grades. Research has shown that Reasoning Mind’s curriculum improves student performance on a variety of tests, along with student attitudes about math. (To read an SRI review of this research, go to www.sri.com/work/publications/strength-research-reasoning-mind.)
Reasoning Mind students are developing a passion for math, just like George did. From a child who was getting bored in school, George now has a Ph.D. in mathematics and is part of the senior management at Reasoning Mind.
Brazos County not only had a hand in the development of Reasoning Mind, but also in its ongoing success. Dennis Goehring, 1950s Aggie football hero, former Air Force pilot and local banker/businessman, serves on the Reasoning Mind board of directors, as does Dr. Stephen Holditch, professor emeritus of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M. Dr. Hersh Waxman, director of the Education Research Center at Texas A&M, has led several research studies on Reasoning Mind and has seen its impact firsthand. As he put it, “I have conducted research on the effectiveness of mathematics programs in Texas for the past three decades, and I have found that Reasoning Mind is one of the most effective mathematics programs that has been implemented in the state!”
Not only does Reasoning Mind represent a significant advancement in education, it also demonstrates the importance of university-community connections.
“We’re helping Aggies grow into successful entrepreneurs and impactful innovators, who dream of improving the lives around them,” says Blake Petty, director of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M. “Programs like Reasoning Mind prepare young people to tackle challenges in ways that will change the world, and that change could start right here in Brazos County.”
Louis Moser has served as executive director of Southeast Texas for Reasoning Mind for more than two years building partnerships with schools to use Reasoning Mind’s math curriculum. For more information, visit www.reasoningmind.org.