Math and Social Justice

The school where I teach strives to develop students who are intellectually courageous and socially responsible. I respect that attention to something other than academics, but it is hard to find tangible examples where those attributes are being measured or developed. For my individual teacher goal, I have decided to focus on these attributes and pursue quantifying a students level of intellectual courage and social responsibility.

To start out, I asked my students something that makes them “intellectually courageous” on a quiz in Algebra 2. Here are the responses:

I’ve self advocated for myself

when I get a piece of music that I don’t know how to play but I slow
it down and work through the hard parts anyways,

I try to make sure that when I know something, I contribute,

playing tennis in the spring,

I take cooking classes even thought I am not the best cook,

I’m shy but I try to get my opinion out,

I try to find my education more than just doing assignments and getting
good grades, I want to find fun in learning, so when I’m interested in a topic I research it, ask questions, and try to learn more.

I try new math problems without knowing the concept,

taking an Algebra class in English,

taking an acting and reacting elective with no one I know,

I participate

I do public speaking

I do not consider myself a flawless writer but still read aloud and enter

deciding to take a class I hadn’t taken before,

at community service

giving a speech

raising my hand in class not knowing if my answer was right,

trying the school musical last year,

signing up to work at the urban rest stop for the homeless

making a gingerbread house for a science project,

joining the debate team to improve my world knowledge and speaking skills,

speaking in front of the whole class

delivering a 15 minute presentation to the class in Spanish!

being more of a leader on my basketball team,

when I try challenge level problems instead of quiz level problems,

giving a speech in front of the whole school,

joining a new class I didn’t know anything about,

when I took a more creative approach to a big project for physics,

first to volunteer to do a problem in class,

playing chess

english speech,

on the Geometry final I tried the bonus question and got it right,

I’m glad I asked my students about this, and would like to look into ways to develop student’s intellectual courage as I continue teaching. I want them to take risks while working with Mathematics; how do I do that?