Engaging Math Students With Civics and Social Justice
João Gomes, Upper School Math Teacher, Upper School Coordinator of Equity & Inclusion,
The Agnes Irwin School
Structural inequality is the result of a process that cannot be fully understood without mathematics. Core math classes already cover the topics needed to explore civics and social justice, but rarely do these classes include problems that explicitly explore these themes. At the same time, math teachers often discuss the need for more engaging applications to help students develop a mathematical lens through which to view the world. This workshop will explore justifications for including problems centered around social justice and civic engagement and help teachers get started by providing them with a database of such problems arranged by algebra topic. Students can tell when something is/not important to a school. When topics centered around equity and inclusion are absent from STEM classes or relegated to senior electives for students who have fallen below grade-level, it sends a clear message to everyone in the community. If schools want to show that DEI issues are important, they must find ways to infuse the core curriculum with relevant topics that help students explore America's past and present as we prepare them to lead in the future. Participants will come away with helpful tips and a framework to help them engage with others in their community (including faculty, parents, administrators, and boards) about adding social justice topics to core math classes. They will also be given access to a database of social justice applications, arranged by algebra topic. This will allow participants to hit the ground running when they return to their schools and start the work of creating a more meaningful and transformative math curriculum.