“So We Only Have One We Share with More, and Then They Have Way More and They Share with Less”: Mathematics and Spatial Justice

Laurie H. Rubel, Vivian Y. Lim, Maren Hall-Wieckert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

This chapter investigates student learning in the context of a module about a city’s two-tiered financial system of banks and alternative financial institutions (i.e., pawnshops), held in ten sessions in a high school advisory class led by a mathematics teacher. The module exemplifies teaching mathematics for spatial justice, by extending teaching mathematics for social justice (Gutstein, 2006) with the idea that place matters (Gruenewald, 2003) and that justice has a geography (Soja, 2010). In this module, students use the concepts of percent to mathematize the costs of loans, and they analyze intensive variables to investigate spatial data about the density of these categories of institutions across their city. Spatial data is presented with GIS maps, layerable with demographic data and locations of financial institutions. The spatial distribution of the financial institutions reflects the inequalities of the spatial patterns in the city’s social demographics. Contextualized in the disparity of interest rates across these financial institutions, the spatial pattern not only reflects but reinforces those social inequalities. This chapter presents findings from one round of piloting and pursues the question: How did the module’s spatial justice orientation support the development of conceptual understanding of percent and ratio? Analysis focuses on growth with respect to mathematical understanding of percent and learning in class sessions organized around the use of ratios to understand the distribution. Findings include student adoption of strategies indicative of conceptual understandings of percent and development of critical opinions about their city’s two-tiered personal lending system.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationToward Equity and Social Justice in Mathematics Education
EditorsTonya Gau Bartell
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Chapter3
Pages153-172
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-92907-1
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2018

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