So why do students really have to learn this stuff? The simple answer is that everyone needs to learn math to make informed decisions. Let's imagine we've assigned a word problem on linear systems. What do we want kids to do? In an ideal world students would...
- Read the problem and pull out necessary information.
- Make a plan of attack.
- Execute the plan. If something goes wrong, try a different approach!
- Verify the answer.
One way we can work towards this is by helping students learn about social justice through their math courses. In this, we are creating knowledgeable citizens who know how to look at situations and perform an educated analysis - little mathematicians! Something pretty cool that I'll be using this year in my AP Stats course comes directly from the Bock, Velleman, and De Veaux book Stats Modeling the World and analyzes the relationship between race and the death penalty. Students are given a data set and are asked whether race has an influence on the verdict in death penalty cases. Types of activities like this show students that math is used to study the world around them, not just the world in their Statistics text book.