“Why do we need to know this? We’ll never use it in real life.”
This is a sentiment that many students feel in the upper grade mathematics courses. One downtown Toronto teacher, David Stocker, decided to answer the question head on. He works at an alternative school that promotes social justice to its student body. Stocker created the program Math That Matters, a math guide that incorporates math into everyday life. He states that “We must distinguish between using things in the world around us to do math, and using math to understand the world around us.” Over the past years, the math curriculum has become a conglomerate of word problems about how many slices are in a pizza and how many books can fit in a box. And while these problems attempt to engage the students, it is not helping them understand the world around them.
Math That Matters covers topics that are not usually associated with the math curriculum. For example, the program touches upon abuse, genocide, marketing, and advertising. The program teaches students how to question the world around them and analyze the information they receive from different sources.
Stocker’s two main goals for this program are to offer math activities that reinforce and support the math skills that teachers are required to teach as well as to engage and increase student interest in social justice, kindness, and fairness. Stocker points out that his program should not be used as a supplement to the current math curriculum (thus adding more work for teachers), but rather can be used to replace other activities in the classroom.
Thanks to this program, Stocker has noted that his students are more engaged and inquisitive about mathematical concepts, as well as the world that they live in. His program is composed of 50 activities that can be integrated into the classroom curriculum. To learn more, you can go to http://bit.ly/970k1y.