- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Beacon Press; First Edition edition (January 18, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0807031267
- ISBN-13: 978-0807031261
- Package Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Radical Equations: Math Literacy and Civil Rights First Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
"The ongoing struggle for citizenship and equality for minority people is now linked to an issue of math and science literacy," argue Moses, an educator and civil rights activist, and Cobb, a cofounder of the National Association of Black Journalists. Moses's Algebra Project, which he initiated in McComb County, Miss., in 1982, is not a traditional program of school reform. It aims to nurture collaboration between parents, teachers and students in order to teach middle-school kids algebra--a course that Moses believes is a crucial stepping-stone to college level math and, thus, lifelong economic opportunity. Drawing its inspiration from the civil rights movement's organizing tactics, the first part of this book is devoted to detailing how black Americans undid the white choke hold on Southern politics. In part two, Moses shows how the same grassroots organizing can be applied to make change in the classroom. He also explains why the project's success rate is so much higher than that of traditional math programs. Peppered with anecdotes and quotations from participants, this dense book is surprisingly captivating. Moses's main argument should resonate with concerned parents and community leaders as well as educators. An important step forward in math pedagogy and a provocative field manual, this book is a radical equation indeed. (Feb.)Forecast: Moses's status as a legendary civil rights activist, a MacArthur Award recipient and a dynamic voice in education should help garner an enthusiastic reception for this book, particularly in cities like Boston and Los Angeles, where he has established divisions of the Algebra Project and where an author tour is planned.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
They seem like unrelated concepts: civil rights and math literacy; Freedom Summer and the Algebra Project. When the individual who links them is Bob Moses, however, the unanticipated connections are worth exploring. Moses was a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organizer in Mississippi in the 1960s. In part 1, he discusses the lessons of that experience, particularly involving the entire community and defining a goal (in Mississippi, voting rights) that empowers the community to address its other needs. In the twenty-first century, Moses argues, "the most urgent social issue affecting poor people and people of color is economic access . . . [and] economic access and full citizenship depend crucially on math and science literacy." For two decades, Moses and his associates have been developing an approach to middle-school math aimed at preparing every child for high-school and then college mathematics. Part 2 of Radical Equations traces that effort, its experiential pedagogy, and its application in urban and rural school districts. A surprising study of continuity and change in the struggle to reduce inequality and empower communities. Mary Carroll
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Top customer reviews
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The day to day details on building a groundswell movements were helpful - and something I hadn't read before, especially in an education context. They give actual examples - at the end of the book - on how they simplify math teaching (by breaking down wording that isn't natural, such as symbol based, and interpretting it in more natural language so the children can see the problem differently then pick up the symbols).
Most of the education related books I've read aren't as original or interesting as this one. I keep recommending it and will use what I learned going forward.
Perhaps I should have been better informed myself, but the first half of this book isn't much about the Algebra Project at all. It is a memoir of the authors' participation in the voter registration push in Mississippi in the early sixties. Though fascinating, it wasn't what I was expecting. And, though I respect the authors' desire to give as many people from that period a voice, this book suffers from a barrage of names and quotes that only those involved would have an easy time keeping track of.
In the second part, a description of the development of the Algebra Project begins, with its seeds in Boston and its spread to Mississippi and other areas of the South. The authors show how its success is in its grassroots support from parents and students, mirroring the spread of the civil rights movement from the first half of the book. The Project has many of the qualities of a successful math initiative, including real-life connections for the students, success in moving them forward, growing buy-in from the teachers and support from the community. As a teacher, what I would have liked to see more of is exactly what kinds of lessons are being taught. There is one developed example in an appendix but not enough for me to really grasp what is being taught and how.
In the end, despite this being an interesting story of the development of an idea, it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence on how to get an educational initiative off the ground, but not a lot of specifics on the what and how of this project. For those who want an inspirational true story of strides being made in education, this is a good place to look. For nuts and bolts, you'll have to look elsewhere.
The beginning of the book reads like Moses' autobiography about his years organizing in Mississippi. He then discusses how groups like the Jews, Koreans, and Chinese relied on math as the basis for their upward mobility. Moses' theory is that as the world becomes more and more focused on technology and innovation, math will have an even greater importance.
Summation: Read this book -- it is very eye-opening.
Then followed by development of "The Algebra Project" (still going strong) to help black kids become people, not things, in a way that would not attract too much attention, and benefit the participants mathematically as well.