A woman smiles head on to the camera. She has shoulder length dark hair and is posed in front of a white wall.

Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Olive-Harvey College Kara Neely Simmons believes math can be everyone’s subject.

It has always been her dream to teach the subject. For the past ten years, she’s been doing just that at Truman and Olive-Harvey.

For most of those ten years, Professor Neely Simmons has been very careful to keep her math curriculum and current events separate in her classroom. That is until 2020.

When the pandemic hit, Professor Neely Simmons began setting aside time in her virtual classes to talk about what her students were experiencing and started to incorporate current events into the curriculum. It made her begin to wonder why she didn’t bring the issues her students were facing to her lessons all the time.

That brought the professor to critical mathematics. It’s the study of math centered around social, economic, and justice issues. Math is used to deepen the understanding and discussion surrounding these topics.  She learned about critical mathematics in her Ph.D. program at UIC through Professor of Mathematics Education Rico Gutstein. Now, Professor Neely Simmons will be bringing the study to City Colleges.

She will begin teaching Math 124-Critical Mathematics during the 12-week fall session. Students will learn the multicultural history of mathematics, the geometry of neighborhood mapping, financial mathematics, statistics, data, the probability of injustice, and much more. Professor Neely Simmons hopes that teaching math this way will not only be interesting to students, but applicable to their everyday lives.

“It’s so exciting to be able to teach math this way to Black and Brown students,” she said. “If we can see ourselves within the history of math, that would make us understand we have everything we need to be successful in mathematics.”

Interested students can enroll in the class now. It will take place virtually on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:10 a.m. – 1:40 p.m. The fall 12-week session begins Monday, September 25.