Math Therapy

Math Therapy

Math Therapy explores the root causes of math trauma, and the empowering ways we can heal from it. Each week host Vanessa Vakharia, aka The Math Guru, dives into what we get right and wrong about math education, and chats with some of today’s most inspiring and visionary minds working to make math more accessible, diverse, and fun for students of all ages. Whether you think you’re a "math person" or not, you’re about to find out that math people don’t actually exist – but the scars that math class left on many of us, definitely do. And don’t worry, no calculators or actual math were involved in the making of this podcast ;)


May 30, 2024 42 mins

Dan Finkel is an author/educator who believes that humans are wired to be curious from birth, and that play is the secret to maintaining that joy of learning throughout childhood.  On today’s season 6 finale, he and Vanessa discuss how teaching kids about math can be so much more fun than we think; it can mean playing board games, counting on their fingers, anything that helps them develop an intuitive sense that there are patterns...

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Dr. India White learned grit and resilience the hard way: facing down obstacles throughout her life and deciding she wouldn’t back down.  Now she coaches teachers and students on developing their own gritty superpowers, and she joins Vanessa today for wide-ranging and inspiring conversation. They discuss her journey from a homeless shelter to a college dorm, how equity is about so much more than just race, and the power of lifting ...

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What if the secret to winning a debate was actually listening to your opponent? What if you could build confidence and overcome anxiety through the practice of public speaking?  And HOW does someone go from dreams of Broadway fame to teaching debate in math class?!  Find out today as Vanessa chats with math educator/coach Chris Luzniak, host of The DebateMath Podcast!

About Chris (Website, Twitter, Instagram)
Chris Luzniak is an...

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When Vanessa saw today’s guest deliver a deeply personal talk at a recent math conference, she was left with more questions than answers; all she knew for certain was she had to get him on the podcast.  Sean Nank is a math educator who believes that the power of our students' stories is the most valuable tool we can harness in our math classrooms, and he illustrates this by sharing his own journey of growing up in an abusive e...

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Today’s another one for the teachers, featuring Jon Orr & Kyle Pearce of the Make Math Moments empire - they have a podcast, a framework, workshops & courses & virtual summits galore, and who knows probably even a cooking show at this point?!  They join Vanessa today to discuss the SHOCKING realization early in their career that not all students would be as excited about math as they were … which propelled them to adapt...

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We’re often talking about trauma from the student perspective: how it happens in the classroom, and how it follows them into adulthood.  But one group is often overlooked in this discussion - teachers!  Today Vanessa chats with educator Brittany Hege about the challenges teachers often face in keeping up with changing pedagogies, while already being strapped for time and often struggling with math traumas of their own!  This is an ...

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Of the truly infinite things Vanessa likes to rant about, few top the list like math’s marketing problem - which is why she was elated to chat with social media mathstar Howie Hua!  Today Howie shares how his own experiences with math anxiety sucked the joy out of math when he was a student, and how he started to bring it back for both himself and his students when he became a teacher.  He’s built a massive following on TikTok and ...

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When you picture a mathematician, what comes to mind?  Now … what about a “mathematical explorer”?  Well, that’s what Francis Su calls himself, and when Vanessa picked up his book Mathematics for Human Flourishing, she couldn’t put it down. On today's episode they explore how mathematical discovery can unleash the wonder and curiosity innate within us all.  They also discuss some deep questions, like why do people have differe...

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Longtime listeners (like today’s guest, as you’ll discover…) will recall one name popping up in almost every interview last season, so Vanessa needed to find out for herself: who is Zak Champagne & why do people like him so much?! Through today’s rollercoaster episode she discovered a teacher with boundless enthusiasm for the joys of teaching, grounded in a deep respect for his students. 

They unpack what we really mea...

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On the Season 6 premiere of Math Therapy, Vanessa chats with Dr. Pamela Seda, an expert in all things education and inspiration!  They dive deep into hot topics like how teachers can build trust in the classroom by modelling vulnerability, the benefits of cultivating community over competition, and a fascinating metaphor that illustrates what equity and accommodations truly mean in our schools.

About Pam (Website, Insta, Twitter, Fa...

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March 21, 2024 4 mins

Season 6 drops March 28th - here’s a sample of who and what you’ll hear!

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March 14, 2024 48 mins

It's March 14th, aka 3.14 ... so Happy Pi Day!  To help you get in the zone, we're re-airing an episode from last year recounting the Math Therapy team's Pi Day 2023 trip to Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Michigan.  This stemmed from Vanessa's Season 3, Episode 10 interview with Christopher Havens, an inmate serving a 25-year sentence for murder who has rehabilitated himself with math and founded the Pri...

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March 7, 2024 2 mins

The rumours are true!  (The rumours that Vanessa has been spreading herself.)  Season 6 of Math Therapy launches March 28th!

To get you hyped while we get this batch of episodes ready for you, here are some brief thoughts she recorded immediately after we finished a marathon 10 interviews over 4 days.  What themes did she cover? Will she or her guests get cancelled this season?  How much did she annoy her producer David?  ...

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October 19, 2023 9 mins

Don't worry, Math Therapy isn't going anywhere ... but here's a fun bonus episode as we look back on an incredible 5th season!  It was a total success in every possible way, except one: for whatever reason, Vanessa lost the ability to simply say "goodbye" at the end of the interviews.

This hadn't been an issue in previous seasons but she somehow got very in her head about it, and when her prod...

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In Vanessa's masters thesis titled "Imagining a World Where Paris Hilton Loves Math", there was nobody quoted more frequently than today's guest, Stanford professor Dr. Jo Boaler.  On the season 5 finale of Math Therapy, Vanessa sits down with her math ed hero to discuss how limiting beliefs vs a growth mindset impact the brain, how struggle and mistake-making benefit learning, and the extremely personal resista...

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Peter Liljedahl is literally changing the math classroom.  His book "Building Thinking Classrooms" has taken the educational world by storm with a simple message: instead of teaching students to memorize, we have to teach them to think.  Sounds trite, but if you ... think about it, traditional classrooms are not designed that way!

Today, Peter explains to Vanessa how a "thinking classroom" swaps out tab...

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July 6, 2023 32 mins

Should mistake-making be encouraged in math class? Or should mistakes be shamed because “in the real world” you can get fired from your job from making a mistake? You can probably guess how Vanessa feels, but a fellow educator recently disagreed … so of course she took to Twitter and a spirited convo ensued!

On today’s episode she further outer-processes her thoughts on this topic, and shares two classroom exercises that encourage c...

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Today's guest literally entered the chat wearing a t-shirt that read "TRUTH MATTERS”, and that sure set the tone for this wide-ranging episode!  Crystal M. Watson is an educator who firmly believes in centering student voices in the classroom, and she also advocates for empowering students by making math practical and meaningful to their life experience.  Throw in some discussion on defining success, different approaches ...

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June 22, 2023 28 mins

In today's episode, Vanessa explores the dangers of narrowly defining success and argues that contrary to popular belief, failure and success are actually BFF, not opposites (looking at you, Merriam-Webster!).  She also shares a practical classroom tool for teachers and students to collaborate on shared definitions of success to support everyone's learning.

Connect with us:

  • Vanessa Vakharia: @themathguru (Inst...
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In honour of Pride Month, we're taking a mid-season 5 break to re-air one of our all-time fave episodes featuring mathematician / drag queen Kyne Santos.  Drag has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons, so we wanted to share Kyne's inspiring story of breaking stereotypes and defying the haters.

If you're new to the podcast we also highly recommend going back and listening to the season 4 finale ...

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