One of the most popular ways to critically describe mathematics education in the United States is “a mile wide and an inch deep.” The TL;DR is that most mathematics education focuses on too broad an array of topics with a lack of emphasis on conceptual understanding and critical thinking.
My worry is that most special education math classes are an inch wide and an inch deep. I ran across this chart from Browder, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Harris, Wakeman (2008).
Demonstrated here is a clear focus on an extremely small amount of topics and the only one investigated in any kind of depth is financial literacy, which admittedly is an extremely important topic for students with disabilities. For students with disabilities to be successful members of their communities they need to be financially literate. But this need should not preclude students with disabilities from exploring other mathematical topics.
I think Jennifer Lawler hit the nail on the head in response to this chart:
— Jennifer Lawler (@jenniferklawler) March 21, 2016
Students with disabilities can and should learn:
Here’s my call to action!
Please let me know how you integrate these and other topics into your special education math classes! Let’s show that we understand students with disabilities deserve more than a curriculum that is an inch wide and an inch deep!