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MATH AND 
SOCIAL JUSTICE

Explore the racial and social justice issues that can be addressed in math classrooms, and both the benefits and pitfalls of this approach to STEM education.

JUSTICE TOPICS.

Math can be used as a vehicle to teach and learn about issues of racial and social (in)justice. At the same time, students can learn math as they explore issues. 

A partial list of topics that can be explored in a RadicalMath classroom include:

Criminalization of People of Color

Issues include prisons/jails, policing, racial profiling, death penalty, facial recognition technology, surveillance, etc.

Housing Discrimination

Issues include: gentrification, redlining, racial covenants, segregation, home ownership, houselessness, etc.

Community
Health

Issues include: asthma, health insurance, diabetes, smoking, COVID, environmental racism/pollution, food insecurity, etc.

Immigrant
Rights

Issues include DACA, separation and imprisonment of children, unaccompanied minors, deportation, surveillance, etc.

Economic Exploitation

Issues include: racial wealth gap, low-wage labor, predatory lenders, access to banks, workers rights, unions, sweatshops, etc.

Gender Discrimination

Issues include: gender pay gaps, anti-trans violence, women in prisons, sexual exploitation, childcare, etc.

BENEFITS and PITFALLS.

Benefits

Benefits for Students


  • Recognize the power of mathematics as an essential tool to critically analyze the world around them and create change, rather than merely regard math as a collection of disconnected rules to be memorized and regurgitated.
  • Engage in high-level thinking about big mathematical ideas
  • Deepen their understanding of social and racial justice issues on local and global scales
  • Understand their power to build a just, democratic society
  • Become more motivated to learn math
  • Engage in authentic (not just theoretical) community problem-solving projects
  • Answer this question for themselves: "Why do I have to know this?"




Benefits for Educators


  • Differentiate their curriculum more easily
  • Create interdisciplinary units and partnerships
  • Learn about their students lives, families and communities
  • Assess learning in a contextualized, holistic manner
  • Build deeper relationships with students





Pitfalls

Benefits for Students


  • Recognize the power of mathematics as an essential tool to critically analyze the world around them and create change, rather than merely regard math as a collection of disconnected rules to be memorized and regurgitated.
  • Engage in high-level thinking about big mathematical ideas
  • Deepen their understanding of social and racial justice issues on local and global scales
  • Understand their power to build a just, democratic society
  • Become more motivated to learn math
  • Engage in authentic (not just theoretical) community problem-solving projects
  • Answer this question for themselves: "Why do I have to know this?"




Benefits for Educators


  • Differentiate their curriculum more easily
  • Create interdisciplinary units and partnerships
  • Learn about their students lives, families and communities
  • Assess learning in a contextualized, holistic manner
  • Build deeper relationships with students