# Measuring Human Rights: High School Mathematics Unit

### Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

• Recognize the connection between human rights indicators and mathematics.
• Identify at least two indicators that use mathematical tools for evaluating the degree to which the human right of having adequate food is fulfilled in various populations.
• Critique indicators developed by their peers and suggest ideas to improve/revise these indicators.
• Apply the math they know to the real-world challenge of human rights.

### Standards Addressed

• MP.1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
• MP.3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
• MP.4 Model with mathematics

## Instructional Approach

### Homework Prior to Lesson

• Read United Declaration of Human Rights preamble and articles
• Be prepared to explain what is a human right and why basic human rights are important
• Be prepared to share one human right in the UDHR that is related with the right to have enough food

### Pre-assessment for the Lesson

• Hand out blank paper to each student. Ask students to write 1-2 paragraphs to answer the following question:
• How can we measure the attainment of human rights?
• Additional prompts include:
• How can we evaluate that different places are achieving basic human rights?
• What math could we use to measure these rights?

### Homework Review

If unit begins with Lesson #1 (and you skipped the intro):

• Ask students “What is an “indicator”? How might we determine and measure indicators of human rights?” Have them share (popcorn style) some ideas from homework.
• Ask students “What is a human right? What are two reasons why basic human rights are essential?” Have them share (popcorn style) some ideas from homework.
• Ask, “Which human rights in the UDHR relate to the right to have enough food?” and solicit ideas from students. Write ideas for both questions (separately) on chart paper. (Write legibly in dark markers and use students’ own words.)

If unit began with optional Intro Lesson :

• Ask students “What is an “indicator”? How might we determine and measure indicators of human rights?” Have them share (popcorn style) some ideas from homework.
• Ask, “What does the quotation from Eleanor Roosevelt suggest about realms in which we might monitor and measure the attainment of human rights?” and solicit ideas from students. Write ideas for both questions (separately) on chart paper. (Write legibly in dark markers and use students’ own words.)

### Introduction to Human Rights Indicators - Teacher Explanation

Human rights indicators can play an important role in protecting human rights. These indicators are used by multiple organizations as a tool to monitor progress made to achieve human rights and compare progress across different countries and places. Recently (2012) the UN published guidelines for measuring human rights. These guidelines include various indicators that reflect the state of human rights in a given country. One of the basic human rights is the right to have adequate food (Article 25). In this lesson, we will investigate how we can mathematically measure the degree to which populations across the globe have adequate food. By the end of the unit, we will be able to better answer the essential question we asked: “How can we measure the attainment of human rights?” Today we will begin by focusing the right for people to have adequate food.

### Individual/Partner Work

• Ask each student to think about 2-4 indicators that would measure the degree to which people in a country have adequate food. Encourage students to go beyond their initial ideas about how to measure human rights and focus specifically on the right to have adequate food.
• Explain that the word “indicator” is a shorter way for saying “a way to measure.” Write down 2-4 indicators (ways to measure) whether people in a country have adequate food. Share the following criteria that have been established for human rights indicators (as a handout or projected in the classroom): (From http://hrbaportal.org/wp-content/files/HRBA_Indicators_Toolkit_HREA.pdf)
• Ask students to turn to one neighbor and use these criteria to discuss and refine their proposed indicators.

Guide to Selecting Indicators

1. Relevant and effective for measuring progress on human rights
2. Clear and easy to compare across countries
3. Not too difficult to measure (does not place too much burden on people collecting the data)
4. Created from well established data sources
5. Consistent, so that they can be measured over time (for example, every 5 years)

Note: Adapted from the 2007 CCA/UNDAF Guidelines to Identify four main criteria for guiding the selection of CCA country-level indicators.

### All Class Discussion

Popcorn style, have pairs share one of their indicators and explain why this indicator might work well to measure the human right to have adequate food. Ask students to explain their reasoning and encourage them to critique each other’s reasoning.

### Introduction to Source and Homework

Show students the cover of the United Nations’ 2012 publication: Human Rights Indicators: A Guide to Measurement and Implementation. Explain to them that the UN has determined it is essential to use both “quantitative” and “qualitative” indicators to measure whether or not human rights are being attained and maintained throughout the world. Starting with the term “quantitative,” have students propose definitions for these words. If necessary, help them use the root words “quant-” and “quanti-” [Latin: how much; how many; how great; amount] to understand what “quantitative” means – and its relationship to mathematical study. Then contrast the root “quali-“ [Latin: what sort of; what kind; how constituted] to distinguish the two types of indicators. Ask students to review their proposed indicators and determine if they would use quantitative or qualitative information to measure the human right they have analyzed. Explain that in this unit, they will be paying attention primarily to quantitative indicators, measures, and data as they explore the unit’s essential question from a mathematical perspective.

As a homework reading assignment, give students the following paragraph from the introduction of the source. Ask them to use the close reading skills they worked on in Primary Source Lesson #1 to read this paragraph and consider the following text-dependent question:How does the quotation from J. K. Galbraith (“If it is not counted, it tends not to be noticed”) relate to the idea of using mathematics to measure the attainment of human rights?

On a general level, the idea of measuring human rights is inspired by the thinking, once well summed up by the eminent development thinker and practitioner J.K. Galbraith, that “if it is not counted, it tends not to be noticed.” On another level and in a different context, one could go further and suggest, “what gets measured gets done.” At the heart of this thinking is the recognition that to manage a process of change directed at meeting certain socially desirable objectives, there is a need to articulate targets consistent with those objectives, mobilize the required means, as well as identify policy instruments and mechanisms that translate those means into desired outcomes. In other words, there is a need for suitable information, for example in the form of statistics, indicators or even indices, in order to undertake a situational analysis, inform public policy, monitor progress, and measure performance and overall outcomes. -UN Human Rights Indicators Guide, p. 1

### Assessment

• Guided Questions and Discussions: During whole-group discussions, student understanding will be assessed through student responses and follow-up probing questions.
• Writing-Based Assessment: Students will participate in two writing activities. First, students will write their responses to the pre-assessment questions. Finally, students will write their ideas for potential indicators to measure the right to have adequate food.
• Peer- and Self-Assessment: Students will work with peers to share and critique their ideas about potential indicators to measure the right to have adequate food.

### Differentiation and Supports

Adaptations

• Pre-teach concepts of “indicator,” “quantitative” and “qualitative”
• Writing assignments can be modified or shortened.

Supports

• Check for students’ understanding of vocabulary, reading, and discussion.

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