Our Community


"Instead of thinking of improving the world let us concentrate on self-improvement.
We can scarcely find out if the world is on the right or wrong path.
But if we take the straight and narrow path we shall find all taking it too
or discover the method of inducing them to take it."
-Gandhi






Our Social Goal

To build community

We aim to create a different kind of environment for our kids. We ask our kids not just to respect each other, but to care for one another. We organize our students into teams with near-peer mentors to leverage the power of example and self-improvement. And then we encourage kids to approach social problems with the same flexibility of mind that they approach mathematical problems. The community this builds provides a space for students to let go of motivation based on fear and the need for status, and to instead develop motivation based on self-expression, creativity, and the inherent enjoyment of possibility. In a country where children are growing up surrounded by violence and trauma, and often given little opportunity for self-expression or creativity, our combination of mathematical and social problem solving is a form of healing centered engagement.


Caring

We let our kids know we care for them

Our goal is to create a learning community that is based on kids caring about kids. We have found that you have incredible power when kids know you care about them. For this reason, everything we do at camp is built around caring for our kids or communicating that love to them. One of our particularly effective practices is hiring high schoolers as staff members to serve as teachers and role models. In our camp near-peer mentors make sure their students are safe, happy, and learning, a structure that creates a family environment. We also make sure our kids know Greater Than Math camps are not a one-time experience. We aim for students to come back to camp year after year, so that camp is a way for students to become part of a community rather than just a way for them to have an experience for one summer or one spring.

Examples

We provide our kids with examples

Our camp brings about social change using the power of example. We expose our students to examples at every stage of development. Near-peer mentors, college instructors, and senior staff provide examples for our kids - and for each other. The realization that each of us could serve as an example, and that our students' behavior will reflect our own, focuses our attention on self-improvement. We see every challenge as a chance to advance: Every day we work to strengthen our weaknesses and master what we're best at. Every day we learn from our mistakes, refine our hearts and minds, and sharpen our ability to bring more beauty and joy into the world. And then we simply hope that our example will resonate with our students enough to attract them to join our effort.



Curiosity

We encourage curiosity over judgment

We start with empathy. What do we mean by this? We mean that the mathematical flexibility of mind we encourage translates very naturally into a social flexibility of mind. While mathematical curiosity leads to a passion for learning, social curiosity about what drives others' behavior leads to empathy. This empathy is the basis for our community, and allows us to approach social problems from new angles that would not be possible with more rigid mindsets.


High Standards

We strive together to bring out the best in ourselves

We hold each other to high standards at Greater Than Math. We constantly point out and celebrate the beautiful moments when we meet our standards. And we refuse to accept that a student or staff member cannot meet our standards. When we experience behavior in camp that is below our expectations, we acknowledge the behavior in question. Note that this does not mean we have to approach any situation with a punitive mindset. Instead, we use dialogue to find ways to support each other in making better choices in the future.



The Kids As Equals

We treat our kids as equals

We don't want to live in a world where anyone tells anyone else what to do. So we don't order our kids around. Instead, we invite our students to join our community; to experience the joys of mathematical discovery and to express their individuality. We treat each student with the same respect we would extend to another adult, and we offer our students choices and support their agency as long as safety and learning allow.


The Kids Create

We engage our kids' hearts and minds

We let our kids know that they share responsibility for the kind of camp we create, and then we invite them to create something beautiful. We have found that kids react strongly when we give them a problem, allow them the autonomy to be creative, and then take their solutions seriously. We have found this to be the case for both mathematical and social problems, so that in addition to learning math, in our camp kids find ways to build community and support one another.