Saturday, January 26, 2008

Math and Social Justice Teaching? AFSC's New Cost of War Project

The AFSC [American Friends Service Committee] has a great new teaching/community education resource - the Cost of War Project - check it out and also please sign the petition today to defund the war and refund human needs in Iraq and the U.S.

See also these great tips, resources and suggestions on how to teach math with a social justice approach from Milwaukee Math Teacher and Rethinking Schools leader Bob Peterson:

As a math teacher I try to integrate social issues into math on a daily basis. Unfortunately the Iraq War provides way too many opportunities. I just happened upon a new web site that might be very helpful for teachers and others concerned about the war.
I am sure many of you already know of the website:
They calculate the cost using the current Congressional expenditures. I have used this site a lot as part of math and social studies lessons in my fifth grade classroom. I've written some of them up for Rethinking Schools -- for example see "Bring the War Home to Our Classrooms".

But now there is a new site that I think is very helpful --actually it's a whole new campaign initiated by the American Friends Service Committee. Check it out at:
They calculate the cost based not only one what is being spent today,
but also future costs -- on debt, on taking care of wounded soldiers, etc.
So instead of $280 million dollars a day, they estimate $720 million a day and then they have a short video to got with it explaining what we could fund in one day's Iraq War expenditure. They have also launched a petition drive -- a form of protest that has been used by all social movements in our nation's history, and one that is very accessible to students of all ages.In terms of current events the use of the video is obvious. In terms of math instruction it could also be a powerful tool. Whether it's large numbers, place value, statistics, multidigit multplication and division, the short video could be a useful spark for some deeper mathematical thinking. It also points out to students the absolute necessity for people to be "mathematically literate" if we are going to change the direction of this country and put it on a more just footing.
As usual, I'd be interested in hearing from people who are infusing
social justice issues into their math instruction.
Bob Peterson
co-editor, Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers

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