Plenary Speaker Profile (2000)
Robert Moses
Founder of The Algebra Project, Cambridge, MA
The Algebra Project: Lessons for Teacher Preparation

I will discuss some of the ways in which teachers are helped to successfully teach the Algebra Project and implications for university teacher preparation courses. The central problem is the willingness of the country to provide an adequate platform for the education of all its youth. Such a platform would of necessity involve deep changes in teacher preparation.

Robert Moses is a distinguished political and educational leader. He is a graduate of Hamilton College and received a Master's degree in Philosophy from Harvard University in 1957. As a prominent leader in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, Moses is especially known for his activities of "Freedom Summer," 1964. He has taught secondary school mathematics in both New York City and Tanzania. In 1982, Moses was awarded a McArthur Fellowship, which he used to volunteer full-time in the Cambridge schools. He developed the Algebra Project—materials to teach pre-algebra in Middle School. This innovative project is based on a thorough analysis of the mathematical and pedagogical difficulties in teaching elementary algebra. In particular, Moses's analysis of the difficulties in passing from intuitive to formal language is rooted in his study of logic. The program balances the abstract with an understanding of African-American youth. The Algebra Project now reaches students at more than 15 sites across the country including those in Boston, Chicago, the Mississippi Delta, and Oakland.