Equity, Joy, And Genius: Creating Culturally Responsive Mathematics Inspired by the North Minneapolis Community

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Equity, Joy, And Genius: Creating Culturally Responsive Mathematics Inspired by the North Minneapolis Community

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There is an increasing demand for change in mathematics education to combat deficit-based assumptions towards students of color and promote culturally affirming learning environments (Celedón-Pattichis et al., 2018). Equity-centered mathematics research provides a powerful opportunity to resist these deficit constructions towards marginalized youth and encourage the development of educators who appreciate diverse cultures, implement inclusive teaching practices, and imagine strategies for challenging existing barriers (Rubel, 2017; Samuels, 2018). This qualitative study centered culturally responsive teaching (Gay, 2002), asset-based community development (Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993), and community cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005) to contextualize mathematics learning for an after-school tutoring program in North Minneapolis, Prepare2Npsire. The aim of this research was to use a community-based participatory action research approach to: 1) explore the culture wealth of North Minneapolis, 2) create culturally responsive mathematics activities for Prepare2Nspire, and 3) observe and engage with students while they complete the activities. Kretzmann and McKnight’s (1993) asset-based community development framework was utilized to categorize community assets into individuals, citizens’ associations, and local institutions. One connecting theme throughout the data was community support for youth. Two activities were developed to center community assets and youth empowerment. The goal of these activities was to strengthen community, curriculum, and classrooms by intentionally connecting students’ multidimensional identities with mathematical learning. The emphasis on participatory, community-based, and action-oriented practices in this study encouraged the disruption of deficit-based assumptions of communities while also creating joy-filled learning opportunities for Prepare2Nspire attendees. The findings, implications, and future directions suggest that acknowledging community assets during mathematical teaching and learning can impact students’ identity development, skills development, intellect, criticality, and joy. Educators must take the necessary steps to strengthen their practice through culturally, historically, and community responsive teaching practices to affirm the beauty and brilliance students bring to the classroom.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.August 2022. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Lesa Covington Clarkson. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 209, pages.

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Forrester, Jessica. (2022). Equity, Joy, And Genius: Creating Culturally Responsive Mathematics Inspired by the North Minneapolis Community. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/250057.

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