BROOKLIN — Every summer, the WoodenBoat School offers a catalog full of classes aimed at teaching the skills required to build boats.
This summer, instructor Joe Youcha will present a boatbuilding course aimed at teachers — but not primarily at boatbuilding. Instead, the course is “a training program for hands-on math instructors,” Youcha said.
Youcha developed and runs Building to Teach, a “train the trainer” program that is currently helping more than 10,000 students in 44 states learn math skills from about 750 instructors using digital and online programs.
According to the Building to Teach website, the program developed by Youcha “reintroduces the building process as a context for math instruction.”
Youcha is executive director of the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, a nonprofit organization housed in a floating boatbuilding school across the Potomac River outside of Washington, D.C., where the training program developed.
Today, the program is used not only as part of school curricula, but by organizations such as the United Brotherhood of Carpenters to train UBC instructors and journeymen to teach math in the classroom and on the job.
“We’ve forgotten that math is fundamentally a building tool,” Youcha said in a telephone conversation Monday afternoon.
“Math used to be taught on the job,” he said. Teaching math in classrooms is “a relatively short term experiment” that only became common as public school education developed.
“I’m not sure it works,” Youcha said.
This summer, Youcha’s course will cover how instructors can teach and apply math through the process of boatbuilding. It also will help participants learn how to identify the needs in their communities, how to build partnerships and how to measure the success of their programs.