How I Made Math Relevant

I am not a licensed in mathematics. However,
in whatever subject area I taught I used math. I wanted my students
to see how math was used in their lives and how relevant it was.

When I taught World History I quickly realized
my students had no idea of geography. I decided to write a history
of their community that was also a socio-economic study of the
area. I used the census tracts of that area. I did a lot of work
personalizing the census for my
students.

In 1977 I wrote a curriculum entitled
“Survival Skills for Students” that included the following pages: My
Income vs. My Expenses, Five Ways To Earn a Quick $5, Summer Job
Hunt, Numbers-Statistics, What Are Your Chances of Making It to the
Pros?, Do You Understand the Sales Tax?

How Do You See The World of Work? Candy Store,
Shopping for a TV, Check Out Skills, Inside the Supermarket, Food
from the Farm to Your Home, Check Out Your Local Bank, Loan Officer
and Apartment for Rent.

I incorporated math when teaching my students
about:

Consumerism

Stocks

Banking

I also had my students do a day's diary of how
they interacted with math from the time they got up until they went
to sleep.

I had my students help me list on the
chalkboard all the monthly expenses that a family had. The
students could not believe at the end of the exercise how many
expenses a family had. Then we would take an average of each
one and see approximately what everything costs in a month.

My students had no conception of population
figures so I used the capacity of Madison Square Garden (basketball
19,763, hockey 18,200 , Shea Stadium (55,777**
**I am dating myself) and Yankee Stadium (56,866)as
starting points .