Social Justice and Math

This session will be discussion-based, and will take different directions depending on what interests you in the readings. Please be sure to read the following articles or chapters thoroughly:

  • William Tate, “Race, Retrenchment, and the Reform of School Mathematics”
  • Eric Gutstein and Bob Peterson, “Introduction,” from Rethinking Mathematics
  • Patrick Finn, “An Un-American Idea”

It’s also recommended, but not required, that you skim “Hidden Assumptions and Unaddressed Questions in Mathematics for All Rhetoric,” by Danny Bernard Martin.

All of these articles can be found here.

As you read, please consider the key questions for our call:

  • What does it mean to “teach math for social justice”? What has it meant to other teachers, and how to I interpret that phrase?

It may also be useful to be familiar with the following explanation of “critical mathematics,” from Marilyn Frankenstein, who has worked to reconcile some of Paulo Freire‘s ideas into mathematics:

Knowledge of basic mathematics and statistics is an important part of gaining real popular, democratic control over the economic, political, and social structures of our society. Liberatory social change requires an understanding of the technical knowledge that is too often used to obscure economic and social realities. When we develop specific strategies for an emancipatory education, it is vital that we include such mathematical literacy. Statistics is usually abandoned to “experts” because it is thought too difficult for most people to understand. Since this knowledge is also considered value-free, it is rarely questioned.



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