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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Math and science are 'every human's birthright'

The Mayans used a base-20 number system

There's no need to "decolonise" math, writes John Armstrong in The Spectator. He's published an open letter criticizing a proposal urging British math professors to decolonise math curricula.

Mathematics isn't European, writes Armstrong, who teaches financial mathematics at King's College London.

The Mayan civilisation was doing sophisticated mathematics in the Americas long before Christopher Columbus arrived
. . . The digits 0123456789 we use today were first written in India and inspired by Chinese mathematics. They were popularised by Persian and Arab mathematicians and then made their way to Europe via the Moors’ conquest of Southern Spain.

Advocates of decoloniality also believe there's a "European paradigm of rational knowledge," writes Armstrong. They think "non-Europeans prefer ‘other ways of knowing’ to rationality and science."

Apparently, it's not racist when the left does it.

Math, science and statistics teaching has been influenced by activists, he writes. "In New Zealand the school chemistry and biology syllabus . . . now invokes the concept of mauri, or life force, to give the atomic theory a new spiritual dimension. This is because of a central diktat that Maori knowledge must be given equal status to other forms of knowledge, including science."

"Culture is not a place" or a color, writes Greg Ashman on Filling the Pail. It is "a collection of powerful and transformative ideas that are the "birthright of every human being on this planet."

200 views4 comments


Dec 01, 2022

Of course these are the same activist who believe everyone can master calculus if enough money is spent, if teachers work hard enough, and if the proper method is used.

Dec 02, 2022
Replying to

While I agree with this in general, I think more students are capable of calculus than are usually acknowledged. My high school calculus class, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, had several students not generally thought of as advanced and they managed to pass the class. For all we know, the experience they gained in that class may have given them the confidence they needed to go on to careers in engineering or physics.


Nov 30, 2022

When space aliens finally visit earth they will know plenty math. Will this be due to Western thought or western colonization of their culture?

This whole thing is just one additional way to attempt to tear down Western Civilization. Tear it down far enough and there will no longer be any civilization left. It's hard for me to imagine who benefits from such blatantly obvious nonsense (literally "non sense"), but there are apparently some idiots out there who think they do.


Nov 30, 2022

Sure, teach everyone the Mayan number system and how they did math. See how far that gets anyone in engineering school.


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