Dr. Byron Dyce recently spoke to 191 women at Lowell Correctional Institution who had completed a comprehensive Math Challenge over the last few months. The audience included youthful offenders, women in the adult GED classes and other educational programs, inmate educational aides, and Lowell’s education faculty and administrators. The women completing the challenge had answered 100 word problems (including showing the work they did in coming up with their solutions) requiring algebra, geometry, probability, and data analysis.
Mathematics is the primary obstacle for women at Lowell who are pursuing their GED while in prison, so the Math Challenge was designed to encourage them to sharpen, extend, and practice their skills, often by working with other inmates outside of class time, and to help them further understand some of the real world applications of the material they were learning in their classes.
Dr. Dyce spoke to his audience about persistence, motivation, and recognizing failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. He also told them about his own experiences, including overcoming doubts expressed about his abilities, in education and sports. Above all, he told them to have faith in themselves and to keep working hard to achieve their goals, and also to learn from their experience in the Math Challenge that tough problems of every sort can be solved if broken down into sensible parts and tackled step by step.
Dr. Dyce was introduced by SF English Professor Bill Stephenson, who has been volunteering regularly in the education program at Lowell over the last several months. Anyone interested in volunteering (especially those with proficiency in GED math skills) can contact Bill Stephenson at 395-4418.
Read more about the Math Challenge and Dr. Dyce’s talk in this short write-up by Lowell’s Education Supervisor Sheila-Rae Mohs – PDF