It has become apparent that public education has not evolved in pursuit of equality or in a quest for maximum academic achievement for all students, but is responding to the developing needs of the market place.

The inequality in education has “its roots in the class structure it serves to legitimize and reproduce”. Instructional practices in this country are designed to produce A students, B students, C students and of course D and F students. Instructional methods limit access to course content, especially in mathematics. Students from diverse backgrounds come to school with different needs. All students receive the same type instruction in an environment of competition.

It is common knowledge that cooperation promotes and maximizes learning. Additionally, students in cooperative conditions have less disagreement and conflict, greater personal acceptance, support from peers and more help and collaboration among group members. Students working in cooperative conditions develop better self-esteem and become positive academically.

Today in the United States mastering mathematics has become more important then ever. Students with a strong grasp of mathematics have an advantage in academics and in the job market.

Parents and concerned educators must take responsibility and make sure that our students are being prepared to compete. We must start as early as possible building mathematics proficiency. Use the Math Maze Game as a platform for skills and strategies practice.

R.C. Glymph M.A.

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The Math Maze©™ game has put a new look on the old "basics," strengthening players' foundation math skills while they are having fun together, which also helps meet the need for more positive social interaction between students. They're talking to each other, sharing solution ideas, gaining confidence and competence, and having a good time practicing the mathematics foundation skills they need to succeed in higher math. Even students proficient in higher math enjoy practicing more complex cognitive skills to come up with different solutions.

For years researchers have identified several factors - peer tutoring, scaffolding and engagement - that increase the likelihood that students will perform better in mathematics. Yet these factors have not resulted in the closing of the achievement gap. Preliminary research on Math Maze was completed years ago. It creates engagement, introduces concepts and reinforces them, and forces practice in a collaborative, cooperative environment where students are peer-tutored and scaffolded. It is scalable to a level that most technologies are not. This game uses these identified factors in a very different way. For instance, the use of peer tutors implies that one student is good enough at math to show another student how to do it. What is implied, but not spoken, is that the peer tutor is the smart one and the one being tutored is not. This game is a teaching tool that uses this idea in a very different way. All players, whether proficient in math or not, will have the opportunity to tutor each other. In other words, all of the players are tutors and this is structured into the game.

As all players watch the one who is tasked with solving the problem, the cards used to solve the problem are visible to everyone and each player can contribute their solutions. This means that each player can see what the possibilities are and help the tasked player identify them. This process also meets the definition of scaffolding. All players help each other improve the computational skills, because they offer help without singling out one person as a failure or loser. All of the players are talking, computing, and laughing and they all feel that they can do the math. This is peer tutoring that defies hierarchy and builds self-esteem. Scaffolding that is intentionally helpful with engagement and camaraderie that builds support could just be the elements missing from the learning picture and the key to closing the achievement gap.

For lay people unfamiliar with some of that educational jargon, the bottom line is that Math Maze works. Students, parents, and educators get caught up in the fun. Students get the math practice they need without boring paper exercises. Those who struggle with math literally light up during game play because there is no risk of having to feel embarrassed. Everyone sees everybody's cards; everyone helps everyone find creative answers. There are no losers in practice games, which is the main purpose of the game —practicing math.

If the basics work, why not use them to shrink the achievement gap? "It's about time we re-think how we continue to invest time and money in our quest to find the right educational tool to close the infamous achievement gap. For the reasons stated above, math is an excellent place to start." Teachers need a tool that works – students have been waiting too long. Math Maze is a proven effective and enjoyable tool that is ready right now to be used by students everywhere. Everything the experts are looking for already exists in this game – it is fervently hoped that schools will provide it to mathematics classes so students can get the help they need without limiting them to the same old paper exercises they've come to fear and resent. And parents, this is something you can do with your kids that's fun, and at the same time you'll help them strengthen their math skills.

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