Making History: Using History Songs to Humanize (Math/Statistics) Content, Class, and Instructors

Presented by
Larry Lesser (University of Texas at El Paso)

Journals such as the MAA's Convergence reflect the value and interest in using the history of mathematics in the teaching of mathematics. History and song share goals of motivating and humanizing content for students in STEM classes. Illustrated with the specific context of mathematics/statistics class (but applicable to other STEM areas as well), this poster overviews rationale and criteria for use of such songs -- whether instructor-created or student-created -- and includes several examples (e.g., biography songs, key moments in the discipline, etc.) and resources. Students are far less likely to be able to name famous practitioners of mathematics/statistics (especially practitioners other than white males) than they are of science, so this approach has the additional benefit of helping students better understand that mathematics and statistics were not "found on tablets millennia ago" but involve ongoing creation that has included false starts, struggles, dramatic triumphs and controversies as does any human endeavor.