2 + 2 = For (Change)


Teaching for Social Justice Through Critical Mathematical Inquiry by Steven Greenstein and Mark Russo (eds.)
#41, Bank Street Educate: Occasional Series, March 1, 2019

This collection of papers offers an opportunity to deepen the discussion of meaningful and effective teaching for social justice. Steven Greenstein and Mark Russo make their case for going beyond the now familiar concept of teaching mathematics for social justice. They argue that using consequential social issues to pose math problems, while worthy and significant, misses three key ways that mathematics education can become a genuine tool for change.  Critical Mathematical Inquiry (CMI) provides all three. A critical lens includes an interrogation of systems of power and oppression and strives to remedy social inequities and injustices. The mathematical lens anchors this work with powerful forms of thinking and reasoning that include conjecturing, connecting, experimenting, representing, and proving. Inquiry builds on students' knowledge by testing ideas, validating them, and explaining relationships. Taken together, the component parts of CMI make math education a powerful place for real life thinking and everyday action. They broaden the spaces in the subject, create "doers of mathematics," and provide leverage for all students to act with agency. The final essay in the series makes clear that "the soft bigotry of low expectations" in math education plays a role that remains misunderstood by many in math instruction. The way forward, from early childhood through high school, lies in the combination of genuine critical pedagogy and empowered learning that each essay in this issue heralds.

Submitted By: Elizabeth Morley, University of Toronto, Jackman Institute of Child Study, Toronto, Ontario

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