- Author, consultant, researcher Tom O'Brien (Tobbs), is
professor emeritus in mathematics education, Southern Illinois
- His work in education is three-fold: teacher education,
curriculum development, and research on children's thinking.
- As a researcher, he has studied the growth of mathematical
ideas in subjects from preschool to medical school and law school.
As a teacher, he has worked with pupils from preschool through
graduate school and for more than twenty years he was the director
of the Teachers' Center Project, a project widely regarded as the
foremost approach to in-service teacher education in the country.
As a curriculum developer, he has authored more than fifty books
for children, in addition to having written and edited some eighty
papers on children's thinking and education published through the
Teachers' Center Project.
- In addition, Dr. O'Brien has published and delivered some 450
papers on children's thinking, mathematics education, intellectual
development and educational change. His presentations and
seminars have taken place in the USA, Canada, Brasil, UK, Italy,
France, Holland, Switzerland, Hungary, and the Republic of South
- He was named a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Senior Research Fellow in Science in 1978, a position involving
collaboration with Prof dr Hans Freudenthal at IOWO, University of
- Prizewinning computer software designed by O'Brien for
Sunburst Communications include Safari Search, Teasers by Tobbs,
King's Rule, Puzzle Tanks, and Blockers and Finders.
- O'Brien's books have been published in the US, UK, Brasil,
Germany, Netherlands and Australia. Discussions are underway for
publication in the People’s Republic of China.
- In the US, his book titles are Daily Tantalizers Books 1-8
(Problem of the Day), VersaTiles® for Problem Solving, Middle
Grades VersaTiles® for Critical-Thinking published by
ETA/Cuisenaire, and Off the Path Math, published by FableVision.
- In 2007-10 he published widely-heralded articles on the “math
wars” in Education Weekly, Phi Delta Kappan, the Montana Mathematics Enthusiast, and Mathematics Teaching (UK).
- In July 2007, after 37 years of blissfully nutrified life in St.
Louis, Tobbs and Gail (Dr. Gail Marshall) moved to Walnut Creek CA
to be near their grand-daughter Molly, and her parents. The visit lasted 2.5 years and Gran and Grandad Tobbs returned to St. Louis.
- Upon return Tobbs published the first of a hoped-for dozen Apple apps, iProbes. (Please google on iProbes.)
- And after the move Tom continues his work with
children—research on logical and mathematical thinking—which has
been underway for five years and which has produced stunning
results published in the USA and Europe, his writing, and his
- In summer 2010 he launches www.mathplace,net, an on-line on-demand distribution
site for math-related books for children, teachers and parents.
- O’Brien received his bachelor's degree from Iona College, his
master’s degree from Teachers College/Columbia University and his
Ph.D. from New York University.