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Calvin Unveils New Math Project
August 2, 2007

David SmithA new math curriculum project at Calvin College is complete and ready to be used by middle school and high school teachers across the country and beyond.

The project comes from the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin. It was begun in 2004 and written and tested by a team of math professors and teachers, including James Bradley and Gary Talsma from Calvin College, David Klanderman from Trinity Christian College and local high school teachers Andrew Busch (Fremont High School) and Eve Ricketts (Grand Rapids Christian High School).

David Smith, director of the Kuyers Institute, says the new materials bring a fresh approach to mathematics.

"The teaching units," he says, "are designed to be both interesting and applicable to the challenges of the world we live in. Rooted in a Christian approach, they use mathematics to think about and better understand God, his creation, and our place and calling in the world."

He notes that the new materials are designed to be used in conjunction with standard high and middle school curricula.

"Units include lesson plans and other support materials," he says, "including the development of an appropriate pedagogy as teachers may not be accustomed to some of the characteristics of the approach."

Those characteristics, says Calvin's Bradley, are based on a broad Christian framework that gives the new curriculum an unusual approach to math.

"The materials show a commitment to the relationship between mathematics and history, the arts, ethical systems, and social justice," he says, "which is not at all typical. They also teach that mathematics can inspire delight and awe, pointing beyond itself to God and not merely serving as a means to acquire knowledge and wealth. And the materials view math teachers as entrusted with a valuable gift and accountable to God for their stewardship of it."

The lessons are designed to supplement and enrich a high school level mathematics curriculum. They may be used as a whole or selectively as needed in enhancing students understanding of topics and their ability to connect them with spiritual and ethical concerns.

Bradley says the topics range from the philosophical -- why a study of math is important -- to the beautiful -- examining the Fibonacci numbers and the golden spiral. They also range from the theoretical -- examining hypercubes to understand higher dimensions -- to the applied -- calculating how compounding interest helps one save for retirement.

The lessons are offered free of charge to be used in the classroom setting or with students on an individual basis.

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