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More than Just Academics: Innovating and Changing the World Through Kumon

“I learned that Kumon is more than just Math and Reading. Kumon teaches us how to learn and how to use our skills to learn other things and develop ourselves further. In our ever-changing world and with the wealth of information that we now have access to, Kumon gives us that edge by allowing us to convert this myriad of information into solutions that would ultimately benefit humankind.”

For 27-year-old Carvey Ehren Maigue, winning the first-ever sustainability prize given by The James Dyson Award was not something he would have envisioned to achieve when he was growing up. His Kumon experience allowed him to dream big dreams, and that made his journey to success possible.

The Kumon Journey

It was way back in early 2002 when his mom asked him to choose between taekwondo or Kumon as his summer activity. He bargained with his mom and chose Kumon, provided that he be enrolled in the Reading Program. In the end, his mom enrolled him in the Math Program. However, he stopped in 2005 when he was in grade 6 and studying Level K ().

“At that time, I did not appreciate that I was able to solve advanced problems even while in grade six. I also didn’t know that I would pursue an engineering course, and it made me oblivious to the advantage and benefits that I would get if I continued until I completed the program. After five years, I enrolled again because I wanted to finish Kumon to help me in college math, specifically calculus.”

Knowing that he would have an edge in his college courses motivated Carvey to finally complete the program. In fact, in his last few months as a Kumon student, he had the unique chance to be an assistant in the Kumon Center.

“I was able to help other students when they had questions on how to solve certain problems. It was fun and saddening at the same time because, as I finished my worksheets and drew closer to completion, it dawned on me that it would be the end of my Kumon journey – no more worksheets, no more daily homework. I felt that there would be a void left once I was done.”

Benefits of Kumon

Kumon has allowed Carvey to develop the following 3 things that have helped him succeed in his academics and his current career as an inventor.

  • Grit

With repetitions, daily homework, and the need to correct my mistakes in my worksheets, Kumon instilled in me the concept of grit. Yes, I was doing the same thing every day, but rather than seeing it as going in circles, I saw it as ascending a spiral staircase – little by little, I knew that I was getting nearer to my goal.

Doing my Kumon routine every day allowed me to see mistakes and failures as steps and not as an end in the journey of achieving something. This sense of grit made me not give up on my ideas and embrace failures. Also, I realized that no goal is too lofty or task too hard if I took it on persistently and in small chunks. This allowed me to break down my bigger goals into smaller goals that could be achieved every day.

  • Mastery of the Fundamentals

With how the lessons are structured in the Kumon worksheets, I became a firm believer that mastering the basics is crucial. I realized that all complex problems boiled down to lots of small fundamental problems, and a mastery of the basics allowed me to pick apart complex problems and get to the root – to what was basic.

It also made me more comfortable with numbers – something very important in the field of engineering. I developed the confidence not to be overwhelmed by the complexity of problems, find ways to see them better from different angles and discover the best approach to solve them.

  • Reflect and Explore

Kumon gave me an environment free from judgments. I was an unruly student who submitted worksheets with many mistakes or with no answers, but I never heard my Kumon teachers complain or reprimand me. This kind of environment taught me the importance of assessing myself. This allowed me to know what areas I should improve on and those I should refine further.

It also allowed me to study other areas not related to my field. In terms of innovation, I believe that immersing myself in different fields was very important. It allowed me to see things in a different light and to use and combine ideas from different fields to create an innovation.

Advice for Students

What advice does Carvey have for current Kumon students? It’s simple – Never hide your worksheets or burn them or lose them deliberately. The only way to finish Kumon is to go through it.

“Our brain is a very magnificent thing. It can come up with all the reasons, excuses, and demotivation for us not to do our homework. We just have to block out those noises and just start doing the worksheets. Yes, it can get tiresome at times, but we can always tell our parents and teachers that we are tired. We can rest by doing fewer sheets for some time, but we do not need to quit.”

“The most exciting times of your lives are during your high school and college days. Finishing Kumon will allow you to enjoy these periods (make friends, pursue hobbies, do sports, discover skills, etc.) since you would have freed up more time that should have been spent on catching up with all the hard math lessons in school. The few minutes you would spend every day with Kumon will save you tons of hours in the future. I assure you that.”

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