The Stanford Tizard applied research and development project was initiated by Ian Benson in 2004 when the then UK Secretary of State for Education, Charles Clarke, asked for help to get better value from the IT investment that the government were making in schools. Services were hosted at the Computer Science Department at Stanford University.
Our advice was threefold:
• The government cannot expect the return on investment that the universities deliver in ICT as long as local authorities continue with the practice of locking down computers so that they are not programmable by teachers or pupils.
• If the unfolding of arithmetic concepts mandated by national strategy were to be left unchanged, there is a continuing risk that software will reduce teachers and children to machine minders.
• to use technology productively he would need to precipitate a conversation among teachers, parents and pupils about the content of primary education — starting with mathematics.
Since then we have worked with teachers, learners and schools to reevaluate an approach to early algebra pioneered by Caleb Gattegno and Georges Cuisenaire. Along the way we have developed small computer programs with learners in Year 2 (US Grade 1), facilitated online learning communities for teachers, curated teacher training materials and regularly presented our work at the conference of the UK Association of Teachers of Mathematics.