Didactics of Experimental Sciences and Mathematics (DICEMA) for Educational Change and Social Justice

Coordination: Santiago Atrio

Our group attends several scientific disciplines, open to any other contribution that enriches or complements the interdisciplinary vision of them. Analyzing components related to Experimental Sciences and Mathematics, we configure a group of professionals and researchers of education who believe in the possibilities offered by our disciplines to contribute to the reflection on educational change and the necessary commitment of the school with Justice Social.

From this point of view we start from the environment. Rare is the pedagogical current that does not use its expression (Environment, Environment, …) in its educational discourse. It is a usual concept (Environmental Education, E.A.) in the vocabulary of the school of the 21st century, but we usually forget that in its definition not only physical, chemical and biological components appear. For decades, although we forget it, it is cited as the interrelation between biotic and abiotic factors, among which social factors are an inescapable part. It is impossible to dissociate the fact that to understand the ecosystem as one that exchanges matter and energy tending to balance naturally, it is necessary to observe the social factors that accompany it. Forest fires, acid rain, emigration and urban growth (problems of marginalization of cities), population growth, famine, destruction of heritage, dehumanization of life, irritability in our behavior, unemployment, marginalization, among others, they have been cited as symptoms of diseases that leave no doubt of the serious threats that threaten the planet Earth (Barney, 1982).

These social factors, contemplated in the definition of Environment, intersect with our conception of the school of the 21st century as a place of discovery, research, cooperative and constructivist work that allows proposing complementary ways of doing things so as not to always obtain the same results (Albert Einstein). The commitment to the idea of ​​having an educational system that proposes a certain environmental awareness comes from the certainty that our environment is not a legacy of our parents, but a loan from our children and only with educational proposals that contribute to a real change in our habits of life we ​​can contribute to generate a fairer school. It is not just about analyzing content, but about changing lifestyles completely rooted in our society.

It is important to criticize our educational system when it is proposed that the school degenerate in a place basically of socialization of citizens within a technological society and, at the same time, contribute to annihilate the possibility that students develop a critical attitude towards, precisely , that same society (Shovsmose, 1999: 67). Critical Mathematics and Ethnomathematics are current that, due to their consolidated scientific base, are helping us to analyze this path, noting that observation from different points of view enriches us and allows us to tackle the complex polyhedral problem we face. Our current socially admitted school presents the different curricular areas in a compartmentalized way, in tightly interconnected sealed chambers and thus, the students structure their mind as a sum of knowledge without any connection. It is an unwritten contract in which the entire educational community, criticizing it, assumes it as a minor evil. Without pretending to subvert the system, the human mind does not work that way and our learning does not work either. We need an effective dialogue and real commitment to tear down the strict walls that separate niches from false science. The scientific literacy of 21st century society must go much further.

The Gaceta of the Spanish Royal Society of Mathematics in its number 4 of Volume 11 of 2008, (Pages 737-766 737) published in the section “Mathematics in Secondary Classrooms” by Antonio Pérez Sanz “El lamento de un mathematical”. That lament has become a reference in Mathematics education throughout the world and, for us, a powerful source of interdisciplinary inspiration. Its author, Paul Lockhart had left university education and since the year 2000, he taught math in New York to high school students. The article was published in 2008.

Lockhart denounced that the mathematics that we were and are teaching is not what the citizens of the 21st century need and urged a radical change not only in the way of teaching mathematics but also a change in the mathematical contents that are taught. None of this has changed. The ideas that I propose continue to serve for any place in the world and for our interdisciplinary group are a source of reflection and example.

He said “The first thing to understand is that mathematics is an art. The difference between mathematics and the rest of the arts, such as music and painting, is that our culture does not recognize them as such. “We think that our culture does not recognize sciences as culture either. The artistic manifestations usually relate to the so-called areas of letters and this outdated dichotomy is still present in all current education.
But they are not any art; they are, according to his words, “the art of explanation”, coinciding with the necessary scientific literacy of 21st century society that we defend:

“If you deprive students of having the opportunity to participate in this activity-to propose problems, make their own guesses and discoveries, to be wrong, to be creatively frustrated, to have an inspiration, and to improvise their own explanations and demonstrations- you are depriving them of mathematics themselves. So no, I’m not protesting the presence of facts and formulas in math classes, I’m protesting the lack of math in math classes. “

Democracy brings us the possibility to decide and the multiplicity of proposals in which science intervenes is evident. The citizen must contribute in the construction of a more just society, from the knowledge of the interrelation of all the factors that intervene in the so-called Environment previously mentioned. Only by fleeing from doctrines and attending to reasoning and constrictive debate can we achieve a more just society and an educational change.

The vindication of the history of Mathematics in the classrooms is another of the pillars of his article. In our case the global claim of the history of Science:

«What other subject is being given without mentioning its history, philosophy, thematic development, aesthetic criteria and current state? What other subject constantly avoids its main sources-beautiful works of art made by some of the most creative minds in all history-in favor of low-class bastardisations? »

Nothing better than the end of the same article to understand that it is for our group a source of constant reflection:

«. . . How ironic that people dismiss mathematics as the antithesis of creativity. They are wasting an art form older than any book, deeper than any poem, and more abstract than anything else. And it’s the school that has done this! What a sad and endless cycle of innocent teachers inflicting harm on their innocent students. How well we could all be doing! »


  • Teaching models designed for Social Justice in the teaching of Experimental Sciences and Mathematics in early childhood, primary, secondary and university education
  • Social Justice in non-formal and informal education for the teaching of Mathematics and
  • Experimental Sciences
  • Critical Mathematics
  • Ethnomathematics
  • International Projects on Social Justice and Educational Change in the teaching of CCEE and Mathematics
  • Experiences of Social Justice in the teaching of CCEE and Mathematics, which favor social change, activism and the participation of students, professors, researchers and members and groups of the community
  • The evaluation of the educational process in CCEE and Mathematics in relation to Social Justice.
  • Evaluation of community members and groups, organizations, mentors, students, educational centers and tutors
  • Students’ perception of Social Justice initiatives in CCEE and Mathematics training
  • Social Justice, Experimental Sciences and Mathematics in front of the educational and technological demands of the 21st century
  • Environmental Problems and Social Justice in the society of the XXI Century
  • Architecture and education. Environments and educational spaces for Social Justice.