JUDO MATH WORKS
many math classes today, teachers follow a district-mandated
pacing schedule, and all students are expected to
keep up with the pace of class, regardless of whether
they have mastered the foundations and skills needed
to move to the next discipline. When the unit test
is over, the class simply moves on to the next chapter,
whether or not individual students are ready. In
this system, kids often become disengaged and fall
further behind. Some students just need more time
to fully comprehend concepts. If every student has
the power to master mathematics given the right
amount of time, what teaching strategy could be
used in order to have the necessary differentiated
pacing? The answer: JUDO!!
is a form of martial arts that dates back to the
late nineteenth century. Judo is translated as gentle
way and applies to much more than mere fighting.
The purpose of learning Judo is to develop character,
body, and mind, so that one can contribute something
of value to the world. The core principles of Judo
include: cooperation, working for mutual welfare
and benefit; and maximum efficiency, using the least
amount of effort to achieve the greatest results.
By creating Judo Math, High Tech Middle Math Teacher
Dan Thoene sought to create a motivated and disciplined
learner, one who respects the craft of mathematics.
this principle be applied to other fields of human
activity? Yes it can also be applied to the improvement
of intellectual and moral power, and in this way
constitutes mental and moral education."
—Professor Jigoro Kano, the father of Judo
Judo Math motivates all students to take responsibility.
There are no ability groups, just pacing groups.
By the end of each discipline, everyone is a black
belt rank, reinforcing the unity of the class. There
is a sense of pride when moving from one belt to
another. The students confidence level increases
throughout the year due to the marking of their
achievements. Since the ultimate goal of Judo is
to develop oneself to the fullest extent possible,
the hope is that all students will develop this
way of thinking throughout the school year, and
apply it not only to math but other areas of life.
the martial art practice, Judo Math incorporates
the use of varying degrees of belts. Instead of
belts you use rubber bracelets. When they come to
class, students put on their belt, called an obi.
In ancient times the obi was developed to put the
student in the appropriate state of mind. When they
put on their obi in class, it signifies that they
are ready to learn math.
Everyone starts each discipline as a white belt.
They progress through each level to earn the next
belt: white to yellow, then orange, blue, and finally
black. Students must earn an 80% on the weekly test
of 5-10 questions in order to progress to the next
belt. This also results in higher grades for students,
since an 80% must be earned to pass. Moving from
one level to the next is celebrated as an achievement
with the presentation of belts, where each student
who advanced is called up in front of the class
to receive their new belt while others recognize
the achievement with applause. Every student becomes
a Black Belt in each discipline, signifying mastery
of that area.
Since Judo preaches working for mutual welfare,
students will work with other members of their belt
class to help each other advance through their belts.
It is the goal of the entire class to help everyone
progress to a black belt. Then once a student becomes
a black belt, they are partnered up with another
student to become their personal tutor, helping
them progress through the belts. For those students
with a faster pace, there is a sensei belt that
can be achieved by moving past the required curriculum.
They work towards becoming a Sensei, receiving a
green belt. The students that reach this status
become extra teachers in the classroom, running
lessons on topics and helping out the most people
that they can. When the entire class finally reaches
the black belt level in any discipline, there is
a huge community celebration of their accomplishments,
and the process starts over with the next discipline.
Learn more about
the Judo Math Teaching Disciplines.