Exeter Mathematics Institute
Improving Public School Mathematics Education
in Partnership with Public School Teachers
The Exeter Mathematics Institute (EMI) is an intensive, hands-on, onsite professional development program for public middle and secondary school mathematics teachers. Run by Phillips Exeter Academy’s mathematics department, EMI consists of local one-week workshops offered during the summer in five to six different American school districts. Each workshop is taught by a rotating team of Exeter mathematics instructors and is carefully tailored to the needs and interests of the participating district.
The goal of the EMI program is to improve mathematics education for students in public middle and high schools by working directly with teachers from those schools on mathematics content and pedagogy. EMI’s philosophy, as outlined in the following principles, reflects the program’s strong commitment to this goal.
EMI’s Principles of Quality Mathematics Education:
- Make the classroom student-centered, rather than teacher-centered.
- Keep the mathematics interesting, correct, and, when possible, within a real-world, problem-solving context.
- Use technology, where appropriate, to help solve engaging problems. This technology may include graphing calculators, computers or hands-on manipulatives.
- Work from specific examples toward seeing generalizations, rather than the reverse.
- Promote cooperative learning through group or partner activities. Make math fun and interesting.
What makes EMI unique among professional development conferences is not only its outreach aspect, but the partnerships that are forged between EMI staff and district teachers as they develop together the curricula for each individual workshop. Unique, too, is EMI′s hands-on, lecture-free format, an approach modeled upon Exeter′s own student-centered pedagogy, commonly referred to as the "Harkness method." The EMI philosophy and practice aligns beautifully with the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Now in its 22nd year, EMI was inaugurated in the summer of 1992 at Phillips Exeter Academy, an independent, co-educational secondary school in southeastern New Hampshire. For its first five years, EMI was held at Exeter as a one-month residential program geared to public high school mathematics teachers from urban districts. EMI continued as a residential program until 1996, when its founder/director, Exeter Mathematics Instructor Eric Bergofsky, and core instructors determined that taking the institute to the participants would be a better option—one that would allow the program to reach the greatest number of mathematics instructors, increase collaboration with local school districts and virtually eliminate travel costs for teacher participants.