What Is Technology’s Moral Imperative in Math Education?

By in expert-voice, Our Expert Talks

A few weeks ago, I was visiting a K to 8 school in my Province of Ontario, Peel DSB. It is one of the largest in Canada, and one of the most diverse.

I had a wonderfully long conversation with the vice-principal about math education and equity. In the midst of the conversations, he was earnestly looking for some new brochures about his board for me. I asked him if there was an online version/pdf. He said there is, but he wanted me to have the actual brochure–as if holding it would have more of an impact.

It did. The word that immediately got my attention was “Modern”, a critical acknowledgment that this generation of students are learning things much differently from the previous “analog” generations.

I then turned the page to find this:


Those are heavy words. They symbolize a collective call that is urgent and tethered to our most sacred beliefs regarding the purpose of education.

Which made me reflect specifically about what should be the moral imperative of technology with regards to math education. Does it even have one? Or, does it follow the lead from strong directives by organizations like @NCTM? Almost every teacher in the United States is aware of NCTM’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. It is the gold standard to which math educators use in building their K to 12 classrooms.

Good technology has tried to align itself with these ideas and follow the lead for the last decade or so. But, technology is coming to its own crossroads as a complete reexamination to the purpose of mathematics is being undertaken by teachers all over North America, and the world for that matter.

In 2019, it is critical that technology move from its early learning role in math education to one that is reflective more of purpose/mission. It needs to find a passionate call that will resonate with emergent visions of math education and honor its greatest capabilities and potential.

As far as emergent visions, one should look no further than NCTM again. At this year’s annual conference in San Diego.


This year marked the first time that teachers had the opportunity to go to sessions under the presenting strand of “For The Love and Joy of Mathematics”.

This is where the moral imperative of technology lies–for the pure, unadulterated joy of being immersed in the world of mathematics. This is where the vector of good technology lies. For poor technology, or one that is guided by the shallowest ideas about learning mathematics, their fate awaits the dustbin of technology.

Mathematics is an adventure. Always has and always will be. The leading digital platforms are creating–often too quietly–some of the most engaging activities that pay homage to mathematics’ most native, authentic, and intrinsic purpose: Love.

Why else would you want to learn it, or anything else for that matter?

But, it’s time technology move from creation to messaging to proud and confident advocacy. You don’t just voice because you are a leader, sometimes you speak so you can become one.

Technology. It is your time. Not just for making things better, faster, or more efficient. We know your capabilities regarding that. We need to hear from you about how you are helping transform mathematics in this age of disruption to something that elicits emotion and affection for the journey that is mathematics.

That is your moral imperative for this generation and the ones to come…