IDEA South Flores students learn about gerrymandering in Dashiell Young-Saver’s stats class on Jan. 9. Photo: Madalyn Mendoza/Axios
Thousands of U.S. teachers are using Skew the Script, free online math materials aiming to make real-world connections, created by San Antonio educator Dashiell Young-Saver.
Why it matters: Students from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods inspired Young-Saver to create relevant materials that would teach math while also empowering them to think critically about the social issues shaping their daily lives.
Context: Young-Saver tells Axios that watching his students’ heads “fall down on the desk one by one” during an Advanced Placement statistics class at Burbank High School, a predominantly low-income campus, during the 2018-2019 school year prompted him to replace textbook material with a student-focused approach.
- Young-Saver started with a listening session, letting students share what they were interested in learning about. Topics ranged from the Spurs’ chances of having a good season to food deserts and race and policing.
- He then created the first set of lesson plans centered on the feedback. During the first year of using Skew the Script, more Burbank students took and passed the AP statistics exam than in any of the previous 16 years.
- The following year, Young-Saver navigated teaching during the pandemic by sharing the lessons on social media, and Skew the Script was born.
- “When we approach students who are handling very adult problems in their lives with textbook problems, it almost feels infantilizing and certainly it’s boring. Giving the students the data to see how the problems they’ve been experiencing throughout their lives came to be can be so empowering,” said Young-Saver, who now teaches at IDEA South Flores.
By the numbers: According to Skew the Script data, 164 teachers are using the curriculum, and 20,000 educators are using the materials nationwide.
Zoom out: Skew the Script, a nonprofit, is exposing children of varying backgrounds across the country to real-world issues they may not otherwise experience.
What they’re saying: Nallely Castillo, Young-Saver’s former student, and current students Ian Camarillo and Autumn Molina, who learned about gerrymandering during a Jan. 9 class, tell Axios that they’ve made real-world connections to the Skew the Script lesson plans.
- Castillo, 19, is a Human Development and Family Sciences major at the University of Texas at Austin. Skew the Script is a foundation for her work as a research assistant for Austin-based Project Seed, which studies the life outcomes of Mexican children who translate for their parents.
- Camarillo and Molina say the class comes to mind when finding far-out stats in articles or when they’re solving problems at work.
- “Once you make the math relevant, then the students can see ‘This is useful for me and I can use it to empower my own voice,” Young-Saver says.
Madalyn’s thought bubble: According to 2021 and 2022 Pew Research, Black and Hispanic people continue to be underrepresented in STEM jobs. With the UTSA’s recent opening of San Pedro 1, which will house the Hispanic-serving institution’s data science school, and Young-Saver’s work, it’ll be exciting to see how locally fostered data science talent supports the city’s development.