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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Social justicing mathematx

Joy Pullman rants well. In The Federalist, she takes on social justice math.

University of Illinois Professor Rochelle Gutierrez, who teaches future teachers, will “argue for a movement against objects, truths, and knowledge” in a keynote to the Mathematics Education and Society conference in January, writes Pullman.

“The relationship between humans, mathematics, and the planet has been one steeped too long in domination and destruction,” the talk summary says.

An education and Latino studies professor, Gutierrez helped write Common Core math tests and served on several National Science Foundation committees.

“The United States has plenty of experience with attempts to social justice up the math classroom, and it always results in more mathematically inept kids,” writes Pullman.

If we don’t preference competence over political correctness, kids lose big. An understanding of basic mathematics is crucial to competence in many lucrative jobs, plus an introduction to one of the great mysteries of the universe, as well as centuries of human inquiry.

Children’s “lives and minds” should not be “pawns in somebody’s ideological war,” she concludes.

Tracking math students is rooted in “capitalist exploitations and settler colonialism” and leads to academic apartheid, argues a University of Oklahoma math education professor. Cacey Wells is the author of recently published study, writes Toni Airaksinen on PJ Media.

Math classes for students of different abilities “have privileged whiteness,” writes Wells. (There must not be many Asians in Oklahoma.)

He suggests placing all students in the same math class, regardless of ability, and replacing “Algebra 1” and “Geometry” with “Math 1” or “Math 2” to reduce the stigma.

Wells also suggests teaching “math for social justice” by linking math study “to issues of gentrification, immigration, race, and other topics pertinent to local communities.”

Drexel has a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to train 24 STEM majors to become middle-school math and science teachers who can bring “social justice teaching to high-needs urban schools. That means “connecting science, mathematics and engineering instruction to students’ personal experiences and culture,” reports Drexel.

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