Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Better Way To Teach Math?

Years ago, and many times since then, I've lamented political incursions into math instruction (see my links at left to posts on social justice and Rethinking Schools).  To a leftie, it's much better to talk about racism in math problems than it is to talk about making change from $5.  It's more "relevant" or something.

So here's the latest attempt, this time by a union president:
Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis wants schools to teach social justice, not “consumerism,” she said in a video.

Lewis spoke about ways to avoid “consumerist” messages while teaching subjects typically seen as apolitical, like math, at the annual conference of the Network for Public Education, a progressive advocacy group that backs public schools.

“You want to talk about organizing? You want to talk about social justice?” the Chicago union leader asked. “People always talk about how that there’s no political and values in math, that you can teach math without a place for social justice.”

“Johnny has five pencils and if he spent two cents for the red pencils and eight cents for the green pencils, and he has 47 cents, how many pencils can he buy? We’ve all seen that, right?” Lewis said. ”That’s a very political statement, because it’s all about consumerism — it’s about buying stuff, right?”

Instead, Lewis prefers the approach of one progressive teacher who uses union-approved rhetoric in math problems, instead of the damaging consumerism of two cent pencils.

“Bob Peterson tells them about Jose working in a factory making piecemeal clothes. He uses the same numbers and gets the same answer,” Lewis explained. “Math is political, too.”
Somehow I don't think Karen Lewis would approve of the political slant I'd use if I were to create such problems.  I don't even think she and I would agree on what constitutes social justice.


Jerry Doctor said...

R.J. can sell marijuana for 20% less than the legal shops because he don't pay no taxes. How many ounces does he have to sell each day to get as much money as the local McDonald's is stealing from its workers by not paying them $15 an hour?

PeggyU said...

Without consumerism, how will Jose sell his clothes?