Radical Math

POSTED ON BEHALF OF MONICA SHAH

It is a myth that peace and social justice issues can only be taught in a peace studies course. It is an even greater myth that there is no place for peace and social justice in mathematics, science, engineering or technology curricula. This post aims to bring attention to a resource for math and economics teachers of all levels who want their students to study issues of social and economic justice.  Radical Math is a site that contains more than 700 lesson plans, articles, books, charts, graphs, data sets, maps, and websites that will help lead students to not only understand issues of social, political and economic injustices through a mathematical framework, but also to learn how to develop just, realistic and mathematically-sound solutions.

Far too often students have complained about their required math courses and asked, “When will I ever use this?” Fusing social justice and math education allows students to be able to do more than memorize formulas and solve equations; they can use math as a tool to understand and change their society. Social Justice Math has two main purposes: 1) to use mathematics to teach and learn about social and economic justice and 2) to develop mathematical literacy and learn math through the study of social justice issues.  Radical Math resources can be utilized in upper elementary, middle, high school, and college classes. Such curriculum can also be integrated in community programs and classes geared to teach math, financial or computer literacy to citizens, immigrants or ESOL students.

Check out this guide created by Jonathan Osler:

A Guide for Integrating Issues of Social and Economic Justice in Mathematics Curriculum

http://www.radicalmath.org/docs/SJMathGuide.pdf

One relevant (and very current) topic that can be introduced and discussed in a math or economics classroom is the Occupy Wall Street and other “occupy” demonstrations around the nation protesting economic and social inequalities, corporate greed and injustices, and corruption. For example, students can learn about the Gini coefficient and how that is calculated, evaluate the disparities in income and wealth distribution, and calculate corporate taxes and profits.

On the site, students and teachers can search by math topic, social justice issue or resource type. Below are all of the searchable topics and themes:

By Math Topic: Algebra,  Annual Percent Rate (APR), Area, Averages, Bar Graph, Basic Math Concepts, Budgeting Money, Budgets, Cartesian, Chance, Charts, Compound Interest, Correlation, Currency Conversion, Data, Data Analysis, Equivalent Fractions, Extrapolation, Geometry, Graphs, Graphing, Fractals, Fractions, Histograms, Interest, Least Common Denominators, Line Graphs, Mapping, Maps, Mean-Median-Mode, Measurement, Net Worth, Patterns, Percent Growth, Percents, Polar, Polls, Probability, Proportions, Rates, Ratios, Real Dollars, Numbers, Sampling, Scatter plots, Statistics, Survey, Symmetry, Tessellations.

By Social Justice Issue: Achievement Gaps, African Americans, Banking, Criminal Justice System, Death Penalty, Defense Budgets,  Economic Development, Ethnomathematics, Environment (pollution, hunger, food and water resources), Financial Literacy/Education (saving, managing debt, paying for college, credit cards, loans, taxes), Gentrification, Globalization, GLTBQ, Health Care, Higher Education, Homeownership, Housing, Hurricane Katrina, Immigration, Juvenile Justice, Latino/Hispanic, Minimum/Living Wage, Lottery, Military Recruitment, New York, Poverty, Poverty Line, Predatory Lending, Prisons, Public Education, Public Health, Racial Profiling, Racism, Single Mothers, Standardized Testing, Sweatshops, Taxes, Teaching, Unemployment, Voting, Wars, Wealth, Welfare, Women

By Resource Type: Article, Book, Chart, Curriculum, Film, Graph, Map, Syllabus, Table, Website

If you have any ideas or have created a lesson plan or projects on a math topic related to a social justice issue that you would like to share with others, you can e-mail info@radicalmath.org.

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