Cultural Histories & Connections with Mathematics
Social justice math is not just about hardships. We must make space in our classrooms for the celebration, honor, and joy of culture.
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."
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?"
Black Lives Matter for Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice by Jacqueline Leonard (2020) Journal of Urban Mathematics Education
Annie Perkins, a white 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.
- 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.
Woke Math a blog by ESMathTeacher, one of the authors of the Seattle Public Schools K-12 Math Ethnic Studies Framework. "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."