Literacy, Numeracy, & Hurricane Sandy

If you have ever been seated next to me when President Obama mentions putting tons of money into Math and Science teachers, you have heard me emphatically scream, “Oh great, have fun when those kids can’t READ their word problems and science books!” as I rip my hair out in frustration. Yes, I believe more money needs to be put into integrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) classes and learning objectives into the k-12 classrooms, but literacy is such an important element to being successful in all of those areas. And by literacy, I mean both reading and writing for various purposes.

Our freshman at the New Community College are required to take two semesters of a course called Quantitative Reasoning. I work with a super human math professor named Rebecca Walker whose math brain just blows. my. mind. She starts talking and I look at my other colleague (a philosopher) and we just shake our heads, eyes widening, as we try to figure out what she is saying. Her brain and my brain are very, very different, but I love working with her because she makes me think of things in a totally different way. She makes me think of numbers. And numbers are freakin’ awesome. Especially when you understand them.

Using our City as a launching point, Rebecca has been grabbing the free daily papers handed out in the subway as fodder for her classroom. She is teaching the students to really read and understand the numbers represented in the basic charts, graphs, and statistics presented in various articles of the paper.

So when I came across this article in The Huffington Post that gave infographs comparing Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Sandy, I couldn’t help but get excited to share it with Rebecca for our students. If she doesn’t use it, I might. Imagine that–me teaching a lesson on numbers!

That just might be yet another sign–along with the advent of superstorms–that the world is changing.

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