Flattening the Facebook Curve: Exploring Intersections of Critical Mathematics Education With the Real, the Surreal, and the Virtual During a Global Pandemic

  • Annica Andersson University of South-Eastern Norway
  • Kathleen Nolan Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Regina, Canada


In March 2020, near the onset of the COVID-19 related lockdowns, quarantine, and isolation measures being taken worldwide, we noticed an increasing number of graphs, diagrams, images, and mathematical models relating to the pandemic posted on our Facebook walls. For the purposes of this paper, we selected a number of these Facebook posts to discuss and analyze, through the lens of questions based in critical mathematics education research. Our analyses draw attention to public discourse(s) around mathematics, as well as how numbers, graphs, diagrams, and images are used on Facebook. In our analyses, we first identify the mathematics topic/concept being depicted through the image and, second, how that Facebook post might serve as an artefact of critical mathematics education. In doing so, we challenge the usual separation of mathematics classrooms from the real world and highlight how, in this time of pandemic, life is less real than it is surreal; it is less real than it is virtual.

Keywords: mathematical modelling; real-world problems; images, critical mathematics education; mathematics and social media; virtual reality; Facebook; mathematics in society; mathematics teaching; mathematics teacher education

Author Biographies

Annica Andersson, University of South-Eastern Norway
Associate Professor, Mathematics Education
Kathleen Nolan, Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Regina, Canada
Professor, Mathematics Education, Faculty of Education, University of Regina