October 2020

Let’s Make Math Education Relevant for Real Life

EdSurge
Let’s Make Math Education Relevant for Real Life

Just Equations Founder and CEO Pamela Burdman's latest op-ed for EdSurge addresses the imperative of modernizing math education, illustrating how high schools and postsecondary institutions have diversified math pathways to include courses such as statistics, data science and social justice math.

EDSURGE—Over a decade ago, I learned about a pioneering course at Cabrillo College in California. In it, students collected survey data in their neighborhoods on issues such as youth gangs or discrimination against immigrants, learned statistical methods to analyze that data, and presented their findings to their local community.

This social justice approach struck me as an effective and relevant way to teach mathematical concepts. The only problem? The community college’s math department didn’t consider it a math course. Although statistics was an accepted general education math course at institutions around the state, and the class used a valid inquiry-based pedagogical strategy, the math faculty nevertheless felt that the course needed to cover more algebra.

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