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Continuing Conversations about Social Justice During Distance Learning

My husband asked me what the highlight of my middle school math classes was the other night. I replied that it was allowing students to discover through math how socio-economic inequality can happen. The students were studying exponential functions. During their synchronous class, the students compared two people who invested money at a high-interest rate to see what happened over time. One person couldn’t invest as much as the other. 

The students immediately recognized that Charlie would make more money because they had invested more. The students “discussed” using the chat function on Zoom about the factors that would contribute to one person having more or less money. I love how our Hoppers are able to talk about issues of social justice with ease. When I asked why one person may have less money than another, a student immediately responded, “social identifiers.” Here are some highlights from the chat:  

Who will earn more money? Why?

(In the chat on Zoom…)

  • Charlie, because she/he/they deposited more money
  • Charlie will earn more money in interest because he started with more money
  • Charlie, because they had a larger starting amount and thus their 6% is worth more than Casey’s 6%.
  • Charlie, because the interest is based on the amount of money initially put in
  • If someone starts out with more money, over time they will earn interest on that money. The interest for larger sums of money is more than the interest for smaller sums of money.

Is it fair? Why might one person have more money than someone else?

  • It doesn’t seem fair because if you start out with more money, you are already set up for success
  • A Degree
  • Wealthier family
  • Education, luck
  • more opportunities
  • careful spending/saving money
  • More commitment
  • status
  • More education
  • If their family has money they can support them and they won’t be in much debt etc.
  • gender, race, socioeconomic status, and opportunity
  • A higher paying job, or a greater tendency to save up
  • race job gender
  • better paying jobs

Why might someone have less money or fewer opportunities?

  • People of color, women
  • Immigration status
  • Student debt
  • high housing cost and where they live plus they need to spend money on bills, children …
  • born into poverty = harder to get good education = harder to get job = you become poor = your children are born into poverty
  • being born into a wealthy family helps people get ahead by trying less
  • Not to be repetitive, but race, gender, location, etc.
  • cycles of poverty hold minorities down!
  • their race, their gender, and their age
  • Education, race, gender, bias
  • wealth, education, college degree, race
  • poverty
  • Race, gender, socioeconomic status
  • they need to spend it on bills or on food
  • They did not earn a four-year degree, thus disabling them from many jobs

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