Learning with Students: Resources for Making the World More Just With Mathematics
Math is a Civil Right: The Story of Bob Moses & the Algebra Project by Donna Curry (Change Agent, September 2018, Our Math Stories)
Our students live in the world, and by inviting them to explore what is happening around us, we allow them to bring their whole selves into our classrooms. We also give them space to make sense of the world in a learning community and show how math can be a tool in that sense-making.
Below is a growing collection of resources for engaging students in exploring social and political issues in math class.
First, Do No Harm
Adult basic education students often come from marginalized communities and injustice is not abstract to them. Our students don't need us or math to tell them that things like racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or xenophobia exist. But we can use math to analyze systemic oppression and structures with our students. But as teachers we have to make sure our students are safe in these explorations. The article below by Dr. Kokka describes a study that shares a vision of what that can look like.
Healing-Informed Social Justice Mathematics: Promoting Students' Sociopolitical Consciousness and Well-Being in Mathematics Class by Dr. Kari Kokka
A Guide for Integrating Issues of Social and Economic Justice into Math Curriculum by Jonathan Osler (founder of RadicalMath.org)
Social Justice Mathematics and Science Resources - this incredible list of math & social justice resources was compiled by Dr. Kari Kokka
Math & Social Justice: A Collaborative Math Teacher Blog-o-Sphere (MTBoS) Site
Teaching Tolerance: Math & Technology Lessons - Teaching Tolerance is an education project from the Southern Poverty Law Center
Resources from the Creating Balance in an Unjust World Conference
In our information-based and data-driven world, statistics are power. The ability to understand, use, and analyze statistics is a civil need. Not to mention the ability to know when statistics are being used to manipulate information, often at the expense of marginalized people. Helping students create and reflect their own stories and communities through data and statistics allows them to become change agents in their own lives and communities. Making them informed-consumers of statistics can help them protect their hearts and minds.
ANN Statistical Literacy Youtube Playlist
Slow Reveal Graphs is an instructional routine for promoting sense-making in graphs. Classroom-ready slides with paired texts can be found here: Social Justice Graphs.
- Disproportionate Incarceration: ANN Past President Connie Rivera (CT) built a special collection of slow reveal graphs focused on a concept that fundamental to math & to justice - proportional reasoning.
- Crime & Punishment: A Tale of Changing Belief - by Jenna Laib (K-8 Math specialist, and creator of the Slow Reveal Graphs website) - "This is a story of how I changed a belief, first by learning from people who experience the world differently than I do, then through math/data. Both can be humanizing."
Black Stats by Monique W. Morris
Mona Chalabi is a data journalist (!), whose work is at the intersection of math, accessible data visualizations, public statistical literacy and justice. In addition to the resources below, she has several videos in the ANN Statistical Literacy playlist linked above.
Ideas for Math & Social Justice - this editable Google Doc from the Math & Social Justice collaborative MTBoS website offers a growing list of sources of statistics and data which can be used as a starting point for math tasks and lessons. Topics include general resources, police and the criminal justice system, social bias/discrimination/prejudice, government & democracy, socioeconomic status & poverty, and migration/immigration/emigration
The American Nightmare by Ibram Kendi (The Atlantic, June 2020)
Cultural Histories & Connections with Mathematics
Social justice math is not just about hardships. We can make space in our classrooms for the celebration of culture.
Annie Perkins, a middle school math teacher in Minnesota writes, "We as math teachers tend to only talk about white male mathematicians. Most of my students don’t look like that, and thus, they have few mathematical role models they can identify with. Take 10-15 minutes a week to research (read Wikipedia, that’s all you need) a not-old-dead-white-dude mathematician, and then take 5 minutes in class to tell your students about them. Include a picture. It’s worth it, I swear." To help other teachers answer her call, she created The Mathematicians Project with ready to use biographies and pictures.
Skellzies! (and other Student Research Projects on Mathematical Cultural Artifacts) - a ABE/HSE math teacher and ANN member Ramon Garcia worked with his students to mathematize cultural artifacts from their own lives. Inspired by Ramon, Brian Palacios, a high school teacher in NYC created a book with his students' math writings: "Ramon’s book reminded me that math can and should be generative and full of original thinking. It reminded me that my students arrive to class each day bearing mathematical gifts. So while it is true that our students need mathematics, it is also true that mathematics needs our students. It needs their perspective, their ingenuity, their questions, their culture, their stories. More than anything, it needs their voice. I wanted my students to understand this. I wanted them to see that they mattered to math."
- Annie also maintains, and updates, this list of resources for researching mathematicians who are Black, Latinx, Female, Indian, and Native American.
- You can also find out about Annie's #MathArtChallenges in the MathArt section of this website. Many of the activities involve mathematics rooted in place like Celtic Knots, Sona drawings, hitomezashi stitching, Islamic geometry, rangoli, and mandalas.
The Story of Fibonacci & the Math Ethnic Studies Framework - A K-8 math specialist writes about a lesson she did on Fibonacci and the spread of Arabic numbers through the lens of the Seattle Public Schools' K-12 Math Ethnic Studies Framework.
Math in a Cultural Context Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
Recommended by Amy Vickers, WI: "How can we connect with students' cultures to find math that is meaningful for them? I wish that formal adult education could be interwoven with the math that students could learn from an elder. The videos on this site show an example of how that could happen. How can you find out about the math that your students know and value?"
Woke Math a blog by ESMathTeacher, one of the authors of the Seattle - "Methods are important. However, we do not need to center methods in class. We need to center stories. By centering stories in math class, we center humanity. When we center humanity we bring life back to mathematics."