Skip to main content

Empowering Science and Mathematics Education in Urban Schools

Math and science hold powerful places in contemporary society, setting the foundations for entry into some of the most robust and highest-paying industries. However, effective math and science education is not equally available to all students, with some of the poorest students—those who would benefit most—going egregiously underserved. This ongoing problem with education highlights one of the core causes of the widening class gap.
While this educational inequality can be attributed to a number of economic and political causes, in Empowering Science and Mathematics Education in Urban Communities, Angela Calabrese Barton and Edna Tan demonstrate that it is augmented by a consistent failure to integrate student history, culture, and social needs into the core curriculum. They argue that teachers and schools should create hybrid third spaces—neither classroom nor home—in which underserved students can merge their personal worlds with those of math and science. A host of examples buttress this argument: schools where these spaces have been instituted now provide students not only an immediate motivation to engage the subjects most critical to their future livelihoods but also the broader math and science literacy necessary for robust societal engagement. A unique look at a frustratingly understudied subject, Empowering Science and Mathematics Education pushes beyond the idea of teaching for social justice and into larger questions of how and why students participate in math and science. 

224 pages | 4 halftones, 9 line drawings, 8 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2012

Education: Education--General Studies, Pre-School, Elementary and Secondary Education


“With its potential to be a professional life changing book, Empowering Science & Mathematics Education in Urban Schools is a must read for all individuals who have a stake in science education, including science education researchers, professional development providers, and school administrators of curriculum and instruction, so that social justice pedagogy becomes part of the repertoire of good teaching in order to strive for equity and science for all.”

Jazlin Ebenezer | Studies in Science Education

“Teachers and researchers in urban schools, the authors make a compelling argument for transformative classrooms that connect the worlds of youth with the world of school. They present timely, well-written case studies describing how many urban students are underserved in math and science. . . . Highly recommended.”

D. M. Moss | Choice

Empowering Science and Mathematics Education makes a compelling case for rethinking science and mathematics education through a critical sociocultural perspective and rich descriptions of ‘empowering learning environments’ in and out of school. By unpacking meanings of equity, equality, and enculturation, Edna Tan and Angela Calabrese Barton offer an important counterpoint to dominant assimilationist approaches to science and mathematics education.”

Beth Warren, Chèche Konnen Center, TERC

“Tan & Barton’s stance that rather than asking students to change in order to fit into the culture of science and math, science and math should change to be responsive to the desires of students is a provocative one that raises new questions for educators.”

Cory Buxton, University of Georgia

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Changing the Discourse on Equity and Math and Science for All
Chapter 2. Empowering Teaching and Learning in Math and Science Education
Chapter 3. Critical Mathematical Agency in the Overcrowding at Francis Middle School Project
Chapter 4. A Narrative Pedagogy for Critical Science Literacy
Chapter 5. Becoming an Expert: Critical Engagement with Science and the Community
Chapter 6. Community Spaces as a Part of Hybrid Math Learning Spaces: Integrating Multiple Funds of Knowledge
Chapter 7. Hybrid Spaces for Empowering Learning in Math and Science



Choice Magazine: CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Awards

AERA Division B: Outstanding Book Award in Curriculum Studies

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press