Investigating Social Inequity in the Mathematics Classroom
I came across this Mission Local article about Taica Hsu, a secondary mathematics teacher in an underserved community, who teaches his students to use math to investigate social inequities.
“Where most see numbers, Hsu sees tools. His students do projects in which they apply mathematical principles to illustrate social inequities, sparking discussions of race, class and sexual orientation.
In his world, trigonometry points to justice. Algebra leads to equality. Math is the vehicle, but consciousness-raising is the end.
On one wall, of his purple-painted classroom, posters proclaim the ills of war and social stratification. On another, algebra students’ projects statistically break down the injustices of homeless, drugs and teen pregnancy.”
Growing up, I hated math. I struggled and went to math summer school. I couldn’t understand why algebra mattered and how I could use calculus in my life. I thought I would take the minimal amount of math classes required by my university and call it quits. In my first year of college, I took my first economics class. My professor let me do a project about NAFTA and social justice issues. I was hooked. I struggled through statistics and econometrics courses. In senior year, I did a year-long thesis about the determinants of civil war battle deaths for countries already engaged in civil war. Now, I use my understanding of math and econometrics to consume research that informs my teaching and helps me understand inequality. (Don’t tell my friends I browse EconLit on Friday nights….). Math is empowering – it provides us with a special lens for understanding our world.
Are your students investigating inequity in your math classroom? If so, how? Stay tuned for lesson plans.
Subscribe to comments with RSS.