Monday, November 16, 2015

Math and Poverty

I learn so much from reading my graduate students'
reflections about the readings I assign each week. This is especially true when they relate their own experiences to what we are discussing in class. The thirteen students in my Math and Diversity grad class have such diverse backgrounds that they bring fresh and diverse perspectives to almost everything they read.

One such insight this week really made me stop and think about how we work with children from financially challenged families when it comes to learning math. The student shared an experience where families could sign up their children for a variety of different experiences that were being implemented beyond the normal hours of school. There were series of activities involving art, or science or math, in fact all the disciplines commonly found in the elementary school curriculum.

The observation of particular interest that the graduate student made is that  no children from financially challenged homes were signed up for the math experience. Each different experience had roughly the same number of students signed up but all the students signed up for the math experience came from financially stable or affluent families. The questions arising from this observation are interesting to say the least. Why do financially challenged families not see extra math experiences as beneficial for their children? Why would they rather sign them up for an art or a music experience?

 These are questions I will ask my students in class tonight and ponder for the next few weeks. What do you think?


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