A few months from now, if James Tanton and his Global Math Project co-conspirators have their way, ten million schoolchildren will take a huge mathematical step from the twenty-first century all the way back to the Bronze Age: instead of using a gadget with a state-of-the-art interface (say, a telepathic smartphone that tells you the answer to an arithmetic problem when you merely *think* the question), these kids will solve arithmetic problems by moving counters around on boards, the way people did thousands of years ago.^{1}

But if you think Tanton is a back-to-basics reactionary, you’ve got him all wrong: he’s a math-Ph.D.-turned-math-educator possessed by the conviction that math can be made understandable to, and exciting for, everyone. Tanton’s “Exploding Dots” approach to precollege math is designed to bring illumination and joy to a subject that students all too often associate with mystery and misery, and the Global Math Project’s aim is to carve out one week each year (“Global Math Week”) from the grade-K-through-12 academic calendar, in which every student gets a chance, if only for an hour, to experience that illumination and joy. Continue reading