Home November 2014 The Russian School of Mathematics

The Russian School of Mathematics

Inessa Rifkin and Irina Khavinson, the two Russian-Jewish immigrant women who started the Massachusetts-based Russian School of Mathematics (RSM) in 1997, believe that anyone can do well in math given the right learning environment. RSM’s approach is based on the rich educational traditions of the former Soviet Union and Europe, the same methodology that enabled 36 young mathematicians to earn the prestigious Fields Medal (the Nobel Prize for mathematics). For more than a decade, RSM students have consistently posted top scores in national and international math competitions and on standardized tests. But as the founders point out, achieving top test scores is just one of the benefits of RSM’s math enrichment program. RSM students also see higher grade point averages in school, more confidence, and a strengthening of problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
The keys, say Rifkin and Khavinson, are creating an enjoyable learning environment that emphasizes understanding over rote memorization and having a systematic curriculum along with well-trained, enthusiastic teachers who can pass their love of math on to their students.
Once based in the Rifkin family living room, the school’s aim has always been to help students get into the best colleges by giving them a set of skills they would find valuable in any profession. RSM has seen demand for its math program increase dramatically over the years, and the math school today enrolls more than 10,000 students at its 23 locations in eight states.  ✿

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