To celebrate the official launch of Math That Matters 2 from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Between the Lines, we’re featuring the CCPA’s Director of Education and Outreach, Erika Shaker. Keep an eye out for Erika’s articles this week as she takes over the Critical Math Twitter feed.
To get to know more about Erika, check out some of her thoughts below!
What is your current professional role?
Director of Education and Outreach at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
What do you enjoy most about your current role?
The education debates are a microcosm for all the key discussions currently taking place: politically, socially, and economically. And because people and communities feel so connected to their schools, few topics generate as much discussion as does education. I’m in a position to work with, listen to, and learn from people across sectors and jurisdictions and—my favourite part—help ensure that their voices are heard in order to make public education more accessible, more inclusive, and more engaging.
Why is critical thinking important in the classroom?
Critical thinking is important everywhere—but it’s particularly key in a publicly-funded institution that, while grounded in present-day ideas and standards, must provide young people with the tools and skills to challenge and change those norms. After all, schools are not about preparing young people to assume their predetermined role in the insufficient status quo—rather, they’re about giving young people the tools to change that status quo for the better (and for all of us).
Who inspires you?
This is hard to answer because, thanks to my job, I get to hear about amazing stories of educational activism and community engagement—from educators, from parents, and from students–every day. Don’t make me choose!
What are your hopes for education (or math education) in the next ten years?
Ideally, I hope that we’re not still fighting the austerity-induced inclination to nickel and dime schools, and the push to divide “essential” from “non-essential” components of a school day. Schools are the heartbeat of communities, and we need to be working together, at every level, to ensure that they are responding to the needs of kids and communities now and in the future as best they can, and that they are well-supported in that task. Creating the conditions for deep, critical, empathetic, and engaged learning is key to building a more equitable, more just and more resilient society.