Socially Response-able Mathematics Education
Social Response-able Mathematics is a collaborative project between Centre of Mathematics and Science Education and a group of teachers in Western Australian Schools. Teachers developed Mathematics activities for the middle years and trialled them with their students. The teacher were supported by a group
of consultants and acted as critical friends to each other. The project was supported by a grant from Australian School Innovations in Science, Technology & Mathematics (ASISTM) Project.
Here we present some of the activities developed in the project not necessarily as activities that teachers can use as is, but rather as ideas that they can develop and adapt for their classes.
Here we present some of the activities developed in the project not necessarily as activities that teachers can use as is, but rather as ideas that they can develop and adapt for their classes.
The Principles behind the Socially Response-able approach
In 2009 Bill Atweh and Kate Brady (now Alai) have published an article in Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education about the project entitled "Socially Response-able Mathematics Education: Implications of an ethical approach".
Introductory notes about the activities
John Hogan, Bill Atweh and Rick Owens outline some general comments introducing the activities developed by the teachers
Teachers' activities
Is McDonald's Good for the WorldDeveloped by John Hogan Inspired by Mei-ling Chow
Most students (from city and large regional centres) would know about and have probably used a McDonald’s food outlets. This gives an immediate familiarity and relevance to the topic. Given that McDonald’s has grown so fast around the world [and is now in many countries; is constantly in TV advertising; employs many thousands of people; is the focus of much discussion about diet and healthy lifestyle; and is used so much by so many] it provides an effective means by which to explore many big ideas and challenging questions. See also the teacher's report on the activity developed by Peter Taylor, Ray Williams, Mei Ling Chow |
Feed Me ProjectDeveloped by Paul McQuade
A friend sent me an email with a photo study of people’s possessions from around the world. I actually took the time to look at it carefully and I realised that it was a jaw dropping experience for me. Using the photo study (“Hungry Planet” by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio) I thought that I could get that same set of reactions with my students, but also tie some good Mathematical learning to it. My Year 8 students had been subjected to a great deal of textual Mathematics rather than contextual Mathematics and I needed to establish the methodology of how to conduct research based Mathematics. I had hoped my first lessons would help in this, but alas it was too abstract and attached to the project. As the project started I soon realised that I should have done many more investigations prior to this one. I cut the task from the project and set about making a collection of 8 directed activities rather than one big project. |
The Cost of IndependenceDeveloped by Paul McQuade
This project is aimed at students who are considering employment directly after school. It challenges students to explore the real costs of living independently. Through the unit students will look at a number of different aspects of life that they are likely to need to take into account and the costs associated with them. They will also look at some of the things they can imagine having, or would like to have, once they leave school. |
It’s About Me ProjectDeveloped by Paul McQuade
Developing a financial understanding of assets, income and expenditure is the Numeracy base of the project. These concepts are based in an ability to estimate and forecast. Students soon develop an understanding that they are a drain (investment) of family income. This is a good time to discuss the some aspects of the throw away and upgrade mentality of the family as it relates to expenses. The concept that earning pocket money (income) for doing chores is in fact an expense on the family budget is eye opening and confronting |
Storms and Tides ProjectMaterial developed by Paul Fee
Periodicity is a mathematics concept taught in Yr 10 trigonometry in the context of sine, cosine and tangent functions for rotational angles. Periodic graphs are drawn and compared. The concept is highly abstract and is not usually given practical applications. This project was able to harness this concept and enable students to use its power to investigate a real world problem of considerable significance to them. |
Household Electricity UsageConference presentation by Jenny Curtis
A project designed to allow students to investigate their own family consumption of electricity and consider ways in which it can be reduced. |
Who is my Neighbour?Material developed by Lisa Groetzinger and Ray Williams
The project was intended to assist the students in providing answers to the following questions about a fund raising activity in their school. 1. Is fund raising for this cause justified? 2. If so, is this the best way to provide assistance? It was also intended to provide the students with an opportunity to decide for themselves on the apropriateness of this fund raising issue rather than just accept it without question. A further goal was to raise students’ awareness of the relevant social factors involved and encourage some reflection on values and judgments arising from the data and mathematical analyses of each task. It was hoped that the tasks may encourage some students to question previously accepted values. |
Teachable 'moments'Material developed by John Hogan
The Socially Response-able approach does is not only achieved by a series of lessons, a course or a long-term project. Our goal is to help students see that mathematics can help us better understand the world and sometimes then take action. Opportunities abound for mathematics teachers and teachers generally to use whatever is topical and relevant in the moment to show students the connections between mathematics and real world around them. Here are three such examples. |
Other Sources
Teachers who are interested in examples of other activities similar to the above may want to check out the following sources. To view source, click on logo or underlined text.
Radical Math Organisation
"Radical Math Teachers are educators who work to integrate issues of economic and social justice into our math classes, and we seek to inspire and support other educators to do the same.
We believe that math literacy is a civil right, and that our nation's failure to provide students, especially low-income youth of color, with a high-quality math education, is a terrible injustice.
We are committed to making sure our classrooms are places that are nurturing for all students, that celebrate different cultures, histories, and styles of learning, and that reflect the just societies we are hoping to bring about through our own lives and teaching practices."
We believe that math literacy is a civil right, and that our nation's failure to provide students, especially low-income youth of color, with a high-quality math education, is a terrible injustice.
We are committed to making sure our classrooms are places that are nurturing for all students, that celebrate different cultures, histories, and styles of learning, and that reflect the just societies we are hoping to bring about through our own lives and teaching practices."
Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice
This website contains six examples of activities developed by Mathematics Teachers from Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools and Mathematics Education Students and Faculty at Wake Forest University
Further ideas of integrating social justice in education
This blog contains 10 Great Resources for Integrating Social Justice Into Your Classroom. Although not specifically related to mathematics education, a teacher may find these resouces an inspiration about topics and approaches to develop mathematics activities.
Socially Responsible Science
Socially Responsible Science Web site where you can find teaching resources for engaging students of school science in inquiry learning about ethical dilemmas associated with social applications of science and technology.