How did it all begin?
While a secondary school head of maths, Qubizm’s founder Franz Schlindwein was always intrigued as to why children, towards the end of their time in primary school and the beginning of secondary school, lose confidence and interest in mathematics.
To investigate further, he began spending more time in primary schools – team teaching with their teachers, running maths clubs with their pupils, all in an attempt to put his finger on the pulse of this problem.
He observed the following.
Children prefer learning when it is shared, varied and fun.
Mathematics in upper primary, due to the focus on pupil analytics, becomes increasingly isolated as the rigour of the testing process becomes more prevalent.
There is still a major focus on book based learning in mathematics.
As opposed to the fun of using play, as in their formative years at school, the learning of maths for children of this age becomes tedious, repetitive and boring.
The M in STEM is totally under-represented.
To help rectify this situation, Franz decided that he would bring play back into the equation and design a physical device that would raise children’s curiosity levels around mathematics and offer the potential for high levels of engagement, whilst also offering opportunities for all children – with different learning abilities and learning styles – to access the skills and content of the maths curriculum.
The result, after 2 years of Research and Development, was the original large scale Izak9 that can be seen in the picture below.
What happened next?
Franz piloted the large Izak9 with pupils and teachers in local primary schools and was overwhelmed by the response from principals.
In all my 25 years of teaching, this is the most magnificent thing I have ever seen. There were 10 principals in the room when the children were using Izak9 and they were so engaged with each other, that they didn’t even notice we were there.
Brendan Bradley, Principal, Sacred Heart PS, Derry
Highly motivated by this response, Franz began the design of a classroom version of the Izak9 device and decided to leave full-time teaching to pursue the dream of being able to engage all children with mathematics, nationally and internationally.
Factors that are accelerating bringing this dream closer to a reality, include:
- The Inspectorate showcasing the use of Izak9 as an aid to teaching and learning
- Universities across Ireland using Izak9 with their teaching students
- Queens University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin completing research on Izak9’s efficacy in raising pupils’ attitudes to mathematics
- Education Authorities validating Izak9’s use in the areas of Pupil Transition and Shared Education
- The enthusiasm of thousands of children currently using the device
- Specialist and non-specialist teachers of mathematics embracing Izak9 with equal vigour
Where do we go now?
Now we are now entering the growth phase, with more than 500 schools in Ireland already using Izak9 and many more throughout the UK and abroad. We have an Izak9 Superuser programme that celebrates the status of those teachers who are passionate and committed enough to push the boundaries of how maths is both taught and learned.
We have additional projects beginning in September 2017 in Wales, United States, China, Denmark and the UAE, as well as continuing our support of Scottish schools in reducing their Attainment Gap.
If you are interested in changing attitudes to the teaching and learning of mathematics and believe that we can help, we are alway looking for partners with which to work, so please contact us immediately.