Because Kids Don't Hate Math Enough Already

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A new website called RadicalMath.org has been launched to support K-12 math teachers in helping their students develop mathematical literacy through learning to understand and address community problems. Packed with over 750 standards-based lesson plans, articles, data sets, and graphs that are searchable by both math skills and social justice issues, RadicalMath.org is hoping to revolutionize the way that people think about mathematics education in this country.

RadicalMath.org has the dual goals of raising mathematic literacy and simultaneously developing solutions to a range of community issues. The website supports educators to teach many different types of math within the context of studying social, political, and economic justice issues including: poverty, the Prison Industrial Complex, Military Recruitment, Public Health issues, and economic exploitation. RadicalMath.org also contains teaching materials on important financial topics for youth such as owning a credit card, paying for college, and avoiding subprime lenders, as well as materials on Ethnomathematics.

Check out the site, which is really quite impenetrable (and not just because I've never been good at math), here.

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  1. Because studying “social justice issues” is a lot more important than teaching math in a way kids will grasp it.

  2. There’s nothing wrong with teaching applied math, and certainly lots of kids could be helped by learning about the dangers of credit cards in the context of a math class. On the other hand, I have no idea what Ethnomathematics is, but it sounds horrendous.

  3. The school the guy teaches at is pushing that Paulo Freire Pedagogy Of The Oppressed ideology, according to ?ber-lefty edumacator rag Unthinking…er… um….Rethinking Schools, which would be fine by me if it weren’t a publik skool.

    Kevin

  4. What I don’t get is why this type of teaching continues to thrive. I mean, why would student learn better when they are presented with schoolwork that highlights the drudgery of their lives.

    “In your opinion, what does this graph tell us about race and incarceration rates in this country? Why do you think this is the situation?” (Actual problem from one of their books)

  5. Nick, your second link in this has a mistake in the URL.

    As for your last comment in the item, I was on the math team in high school, and I still don’t get that site, so it has nothing to do with whether you’re any good in math. 🙂

  6. Goddamn godless commies!
    At least this should be good news for advocates of homeschooling.

    I love to point out to modern teachers that the guys that did all the math for the Apollo program had likely learned much of their math through rote. (And that roughly 60 years of advances in teaching methods haven’t produced any kind of positive result)

  7. There is a lot wrong with the way (speaking from personal experience) kids learn math and science; but lets not put the cart before the horse here. I was taught mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, by folks who, at best, had a tenuous grasp on the material themselves. A deep fundamental insight should go a long way toward making the material accessible for those kids naturally inclined.

    I’m interested and very quick when it comes to math and science, but as a kid I floundered in the hands of unionized dullards. Making the material relevant to the otherwise uninterested seems like a distant second to inept and unaccountable teachers.

  8. What I don’t get is why this type of teaching continues to thrive.

    It lets a bunch of idiots feel important. What’s
    truly fascinating is that they manage to get paid.

    One of the ‘ethnomathematics’ resources:

    The Critical Mathematics Educators Group (CMEG): Attempting to Connect Anti-Capitalist Work with Mathematics Education
    We believe that major objectives of all education are to shatter the myths about how society is structured; to understand the effects of, and interconnections among racism, sexes[sic?], ageism, heterosexism, monopoly capitalism, imperialism, and other alienating, totalitarian institutional structures and attitudes; to develop the commitment to rebuild those structures and attitudes; and, to develop the personal and collective empowerment needed to engage that task.

    IOW, the major objective of education is to make life more pleasant for people who belong to teachers’ unions.

  9. Social justice issues? For help with good old-fashioned math, see actress Danica McKellar’s website at http://www.danicamckellar.com/.

  10. Ethnomathematics? Is that anything like Theozoology?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theozoology#Theozoology

    And did I just break Godwin’s Law?

  11. The thing I don’t get, and maybe I don’t get it because I was pretty good at math, is that a good student will strip away all the context anyway. In story problems, half the battle is sifting the information down to that which you need to solve the problem. Not stripping the problem down in favor of thinking about all that other stuff only increases the chance a student will be distracted from finding the correct answer.

  12. I was fortunate to just miss out on “the new math.” My little brother got hit with it big time. At 46 he still can’t multiply, but he does remember that a white rod and a red rod equals a green rod.

  13. Included in required supplies for a Grade 2 student:
    1 calculator with large buttons.

    Forget about your child learning math unless you teach it to them.

  14. This pinko-commie scum gives it 2 and a half Power Fists up!

    Fight the Power…through Trigonometry!!!!

  15. Here is a short history of math instruction in the USA during the last fifty years:

    1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of this price. What is his profit?

    1970 (Traditional math): A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. What is his profit?

    1980 (New Math): A logger exchanges a set L of lumber for a set M of money. The cardinality of set M is 100 and each element is worth $1.

    (a) make 100 dots representing the elements of the set M
    (b) The set C representing costs of production contains 20 fewer points than set M. Represent the set C as a subset of the set M.
    (c) What is the cardinality of the set P of profits?

    1990 (Dumbed-down math): A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Underline the number 20.

    2000 (Whole Math): By cutting down a forest full of beautiful trees, a logger makes $20.

    (a) What do you think of this way of making money?
    (b) How did the forest birds and squirrels feel?
    (c) Draw a picture of the forest as you’d like it to look.

  16. NoStar,

    Funny stuff! I pasted it into an email. I bet you get it passed to you soon! Pass it on and you will have good luck.

  17. I pasted it into an email. I bet you get it passed to you soon! Pass it on and you will have good luck

    In that spirit, there should be a:

    2004 (Nigerian Math): Hello, my father, the Forestry Minister of Nigeria, has been killed by the government. Unknown to anyone else, he had $1,000,000 worth of valuable hardwoods stored in a secret location. I need your help liquidating these assets without the interference of the corrupt government. Of the total value, 4/5ths merely covers the cost of extracting the wood from the forest. For merely helping me out kind sir, I will give you, as a gift, the remaining amount from the sale of the wood. However, in order to sneak the wood out of the country to arrange a sale, I need for you to wire to me a deposit equal to 1/5th of the total value. When I complete the sale, I will give you back your deposit, PLUS any additional profit, which will be yours to keep for being so kind.

    a) what is the scammer’s profit?

  18. Let’s be a little fair here. I’m as opposed as anyone to politicizing the classroom, especially at the elementary school level, but theis group’s brochures do include the statement:

    Many people, including myself, often make the mistake of thinking that just because we are talking about important and relevant issues, that there is good teaching and learning going on in our classrooms. Unless the math itself is strong and builds upon previous knowledge, even the most politically provocative conversations and lessons are actually doing the students a disservice. It is an act of social in-justice to deny young people the experience and opportunity of studying and learning real mathematics.

  19. …within the context of studying social, political, and economic justice issues…

    … It is an act of social in-justice to deny young people…

    I know of no noun whose true meaning is destroyed by adjectives as much as the noun ‘justice’.

    Those who habitually modify ‘justice’ with adjectives are almost by definition not discussing justice. Justice stands on its own.

  20. As I pointed out in the biotech thread, there’s some perfectly reasonable material at this radicalmath, albeit wrapped up in multi-culti fluff. That “small business” element is linear programming, straight up. Relying on .doc’s is pretty poor, but whatever. If only the Pie Chart item said percent of “income” instead of “taxes”…

    http://www.radicalmath.org/docs/MathSkills_SocialJustice_Chart.doc

    ? Interest & Compound Interest
    o Making money through a Savings Account
    o Increasing debt on a Credit Card
    o Payday and Tax Refund Loans
    o Predatory Lending
    o Mortgage Payments
    o APR ? how it works, comparing different APR?s

    ? The Lottery
    o Study how the Lottery works, why it?s nearly impossible to win, and the economic damage it causes

    ? Small Business
    o By creating a number of algebraic inequalities that describe limits a business is working with (ie. time, supplies), you can graph multiple inequalities (or by using systems) to determine the number of products (x,y) to make that would maximize the profit

    ? Pie Graphs
    o Budgets ? Determining what percent of your taxes went to each branch of the government

  21. I love to point out to modern teachers that the guys that did all the math for the Apollo program had likely learned much of their math through rote. (And that roughly 60 years of advances in teaching methods haven’t produced any kind of positive result)

    Other than the minor detail that we’ve got much more advanced technology than what we had during the Apollo era.

  22. Bobster,
    Uh, where do you think I got it?

    I couldn’t find the best version.
    It shows how math will be taught in 2010. It’s in Spanish.

  23. T,
    Let’s be a little fair here. I’m as opposed as anyone to politicizing the classroom, especially at the elementary school level, but theis group’s brochures do include the statement:

    That’s called a Lampshade Hanging.

  24. I suspect it’s not lampshade hanging, and furthermore, that this is the essence of the problem with leftists attempting to use the classroom to indoctrinate people. Because most university faculties (at least in the humanities, the softer social sciences, and schools of education) and, indeed, occasional high school faculties are completely dominated by leftists, the members of these faculties come to associate being well educated with espousing certain viewpoints. They are surrounded by people who verify their own prejudices, and view indoctrination as responsible teaching.

    Obviously, I’m exaggerating a bit here, and in all types of departments of all institutions, there will be some faculty members who understand the difference between fact and ideology. But the real problem is the people who earnestly attempt to use the classroom to teach their own ideology because they think it’s appropriate, rather than the ones who do so more cynically.

  25. Compare to this thought experiment:

    You put your child in a Catholic school, not because you like that religion, but because it is the best private school in your area that you can afford. [I’m assuming that you don’t want to use a publik skool for any of the myriad reasons I would avoid them, be they ideological, or practical.] On reviewing your Li’l Precious math homework, you see that all the story problems are like this:

    a.) How many “Hail Marys” and “Our Fathers” are found in X decades of the Rosary? No counting your beads.

    b.) You have 5 loaves and 2 fishes. If the loaves weigh 1 kilogram each, and each fish weighs 5 kilograms, how many fish sandwiches can you make for a multitude of 10,000 people?

    …etc.

    How honked off would you be that the school was using non-religious subjects to indoctrinate the kids in the faith it is explicitly set up to reinforce? Of course, the publik skools pushing an ideology are abusing the trust of the taxpayers who don’t agree with it.

    Kevin

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