ccm3_033792

Marta Civil

For Marta Civil, Frank A. Daniels Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Education and one of the three new Latina professors at UNC’s School of Education, building learning communities that focus on the connection between teaching and learning and the cultural, social and linguistic contexts of Latina/o students is key.

“North Carolina is home to one of the largest and fastest growing Latina/o populations in the country, and it is not only in our best interest to integrate Latina/o students into schools, but also to foster a learning environment that can weave various cultural and even linguistic differences into a richer and more vibrant academic atmosphere,” Civil says.

Watch a video of Civil explaining her work.

Though Civil focuses her research on teacher education and equity in mathematics education primarily for Latina/o populations, her broader goal is to work with teachers to shift from what she calls a deficit perspective in their instruction.

“It is important for educators to begin to look at what skills are present and build on them rather than focus on what is lacking,” Civil says. “Children of different cultures are exposed to common concepts but often in very different ways.”

For instance, American children might add and subtract by counting and eating Cheerios, while Latina/o children might experience measurement at an open market or swap meet. The basic premise is the same, but the learning mechanism is steeped in cultural mores and traditions.

She also says that a more integrative approach may help alleviate some of the added pressure on teachers for their students to do well on standardized testing, especially in math and science.

“Teaching and learning are among the most important things we will ever do in our lives,” she said. “Issues of language, culture, politics or opportunity should not interfere with those pursuits.”

For a longer article on Civil, visit Celebrating Carolina’s Diversity, a newsletter of the Alumni Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity.

Other Recent Profiles

Deepa Damre

When Deepa Damre started law school at Carolina in the late 1990s, she knew she wanted to go into corporate …

Lindsay Jaacks

The air pollution in China was so horrifying that UNC School of Medicine graduate student Lindsay Jaacks had to wear …

Jonny Leano

When UNC graduate student Jonny Leano was growing up in Maui, Hawaii, he didn’t have many opportunities to learn about …

Tracy Raines

Hometown: Grundy, Virginia Undergraduate: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) Unlike many graduate students in the biosciences, Biology student Tracy …

Lewis Lucke

Ambassador Lewis, executive director of Daroke Resources and president of Lewis Lucke LLC, served as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom …

Sam Odom

Because research ties directly to the problems of everyday life, Sam Odom and his colleagues at the Frank Porter Graham …

Aaron Ernst

As part of his job, Carolina graduate Aaron Ernst canoed for eight hours down the Tuckaseegee River in Western North …

Diva Desai

Diva Desai is a marketing supervisor for McDonald’s Corporation and a member of the USA National Handball Team. She earned …

Saule Omarova

UNC School of Law professor Saule Omarova had a busy year. First she published an article, “The Merchants of Wall …