Math isn’t a subject that’s traditionally considered to be incredibly interesting. So, for educators, finding a way to teach mathematics that actually holds students’ attention can be a challenge.
It’s a challenge that Tim and Tanya Chartier have taken on with the help of an unlikely skill set. The pair uses their miming skills to deliver math lessons. Tanya Chartier told the New York Times:
“Any time math is brought up in a TV show or a movie, there is a groan. The way that math was traditionally taught was rote memorization, which is dull. Some people have a negative experience with that and quickly discount their ability to learn math. It is important to teach people in a way that excites them.”
The Chartiers’ business is called Mime-matics. The couple performs their math-related mime skits at colleges and universities around the country. They also sometimes perform at math conferences, festivals, and schools. The Chartiers charge about $500 per performance plus travel expenses and try to arrange those performances around their other speaking engagements and events.
Aside from their business, both Tim and Tanya Chartier work as educators. Tanya is a reading specialist for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Tim is associate professor in the department of mathematics and computer science at Davidson College in North Carolina. The pair originally met at a summer arts camp during their college years. Tim was the first to get involved with miming, but he got Tanya interested in it as well. They eventually even studied the craft with the legendary Marcel Marceau.
The Chartiers say they haven’t done much marketing, aside from uploading some video footage of their performances to sites like Vimeo. But thanks to the truly unique nature of their business, word of mouth has resulted in plenty of demand.
Check out this Vimeo post of the mime duo in action:
For the Chartiers, Mime-matics combines several unique passions. But it’s also an interesting way of solving a problem — that of making mathematics interesting and entertaining to a variety of students. It’s a completely new way of thinking about an old subject. And that fact especiall has helped the Chartiers’ business apart.