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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Equitable Math Instruction: A Mutilated Octopus

Recent study of the relationship between mathematics and culture, has become the subject of anti-racist educational campaigns

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Maria Petrova
Maria Petrova
Maria contributes editorial pieces on cross-cultural issues, education, and the arts.

SPAIN: Ethnomathematics, the study of the relationship between mathematics and culture, has recently become the subject of anti-racist educational campaigns by Woke educators. At least a dozen institutions and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation support the movement.

Read also: Making Numbers Your Best Friend Through Education

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In February, KATU cited the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) as they sent out their monthly “Math Educator Update,” suggesting teachers to enroll for “Pathway to Math Equity Micro-Course 2.0.” Acting upon Woke recommendations, ODE contended, among other things, that “White supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions” because the “focus is on getting the ‘right’ answer” and students are “required to ‘show their work’.” Also, that requiring students to raise their hand before speaking “can reinforce paternalism and power hoarding,” and that teachers should “Identify and challenge the ways that math is used to uphold capitalist, imperialist and racist views.”

While the course didn’t take place in the end, A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction report is being distributed in five toolkits called “Strides” on the equitablemath.org website and media are towering “racist mathematics” as the subject gains importance.

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Mathematicians are incurable. They are inert to the new, because the new is a surprise, and mathematics concerns itself with the expected. — Charles Fort, Lo! (1931)

While a group of university professors and political leaders such as Sergiu Klanerman, John McWhorter, French president Emmanuel Macron, and Minister of education Jean-Michel Blanquer criticized US “identity politics,” “woke leftism,” “critical race,” and “post-colonial” theories, “interrogation,” “resistance,” and “exposure” are echoed by both people who find the economic recession at the edge of their nerves and influential figures.

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As Charles Fort writes in Wild Talents, “Every science is a mutilated octopus. If its tentacles were not clipped to stumps, it would feel its way into disturbing contacts.” Reading A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction and listening to the forced position some public figures take just in case the quack prophecy fulfills itself, one notices quite a few controversial points. Yet, something “as beheaded as racist mathematics” is a good candidate for Fortean phenomena because it does not matter so much whether it is the case or not, its “distinctive blend of mocking humor, penetrating insight, and calculated outrageousness” is worth the brainstorm.

Recommended reading: Charles Fort, Lo!, Amazon.com or a hypertext online edition here.

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