(Offered as MATH 205, BLST 209 and HIST 209 [US]) This course will look at issues surrounding inequality in K-12 math education. Mathematics has a reputation for being something that either you can do or you can’t: the so-called "geniuses" know all the answers already, whereas for everyone else it is a constant struggle. In addition, math and other STEM fields have traditionally been discouraged as career paths for women and for students from underrepresented groups. At Amherst today, students from those groups are still in the minority in math classes. We’ll ask why this is, whether it can and should be changed, and if so, how.
Our discussions will be guided by some of the following questions: To what extent is math ability an innate talent that you are either born with or not? How and why is variation in accomplishment in mathematics related to race, gender and socio-economic class? What mathematics should we teach in schools and how should those teachers be prepared? What is "math phobia," how does it develop and how can it be treated? How do attitudes towards math in the general public affect student learning?
Limited to 25 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professors Ching and Moss.
If Overenrolled: Preference will be given to ensure a mix of participants with different backgrounds and experiences in math. Students with a demonstrated interest in educational issues will be given priority.