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Math Perpetuates White Privilege


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What is really sad is she didn't realize that they Mayans and Olmecs were the first to use the Zero integer.  Math is aptitude and hard work.  You really have to be pushing the envelope to try and say by studying higher math it is an example of White privilege and is insulting to all people who are good at it.  

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I went to a private school and I was taught that math was basically proof of a higher deity. 

So basically math is evil, it confirms there is a God, and it is a racist subject. 

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My favorite quote:  'Exploring challenging pedagogical questions is exactly what faculty in a world-class college of education should be doing.'...You know, I don't remember  any  challenging pedagogical questions on my EE or CS or Finance  tests....I just remember a s*** load of math....so, which type of math is the most priveliged?  Addition? Subtraction?  Division?....I know, it was that friggin' thermodynamics.... but the real interesting part of all this is that I didn't know the Babylonians and Egyptians were white....those white bastards and their damn advanced concepts...

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39 minutes ago, homersapien said:

Of course not.

They're assuming someone else's opinion.

I mean, it's not going to be clear from either The Daily Heil or Campus Reform, both of which are conservative grievance industry outlets. 

I'd encourage everyone to read her work. 

http://ed-osprey.gsu.edu/ojs/index.php/JUME/article/view/223/148

I personally don't agree with everything she's saying, but she's well-reasoned and justified to make the points she does. She's coming from the point of view of teaching math to minority students in predominantly underfunded and undersupported schools. Using math as a proxy for general intelligence is bad, but the truth of the matter is that math is used as such a proxy, both in the context of treating individuals skilled at math as universally more intelligent as well as the reliance on standardized testing in the educational system.

When students (particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds) are put through a mathematics curriculum which deemphasizes or even ignores the contributions of non-Western mathematicians, it can be discouraging, and discouraged students don't do well in math, and then we're back to the problem of people who are "bad at math" are considered less intelligent.

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1 minute ago, Bigbens42 said:

I mean, it's not going to be clear from either The Daily Heil or Campus Reform, both of which are conservative grievance industry outlets. 

I'd encourage everyone to read her work. 

http://ed-osprey.gsu.edu/ojs/index.php/JUME/article/view/223/148

I personally don't agree with everything she's saying, but she's well-reasoned and justified to make the points she does. She's coming from the point of view of teaching math to minority students in predominantly underfunded and undersupported schools. Using math as a proxy for general intelligence is bad, but the truth of the matter is that math is used as such a proxy, both in the context of treating individuals skilled at math as universally more intelligent as well as the reliance on standardized testing in the educational system.

When students (particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds) are put through a mathematics curriculum which deemphasizes or even ignores the contributions of non-Western mathematicians, it can be discouraging, and discouraged students don't do well in math, and then we're back to the problem of people who are "bad at math" are considered less intelligent.

Way too subtle and complex for this crowd. <_<

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Just now, homersapien said:

Way too subtle and complex for this crowd. <_<

Just waiting for another facepalm reaction from Jeff at this point. ;)

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42 minutes ago, japantiger said:

My favorite quote:  'Exploring challenging pedagogical questions is exactly what faculty in a world-class college of education should be doing.'...You know, I don't remember  any  challenging pedagogical questions on my EE or CS or Finance  tests....I just remember a s*** load of math....so, which type of math is the most priveliged?  Addition? Subtraction?  Division?....I know, it was that friggin' thermodynamics.... but the real interesting part of all this is that I didn't know the Babylonians and Egyptians were white....those white bastards and their damn advanced concepts...

There's a disconnect here, which is partly her fault. When she refers to mathematics, she's referring to the teaching of mathematics. 

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7 hours ago, Bigbens42 said:

Just waiting for another facepalm reaction from Jeff at this point. ;)

You got it.

Don’t ever make fun of the birthers or any other fringe nut crazies again if you seriously believe that s***. Yeah, she has good points but the totality of the message is garbage. 

 

Math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white.

 

WTF?

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8 hours ago, Bigbens42 said:

I mean, it's not going to be clear from either The Daily Heil or Campus Reform, both of which are conservative grievance industry outlets. 

I'd encourage everyone to read her work. 

http://ed-osprey.gsu.edu/ojs/index.php/JUME/article/view/223/148

I personally don't agree with everything she's saying, but she's well-reasoned and justified to make the points she does. She's coming from the point of view of teaching math to minority students in predominantly underfunded and undersupported schools. Using math as a proxy for general intelligence is bad, but the truth of the matter is that math is used as such a proxy, both in the context of treating individuals skilled at math as universally more intelligent as well as the reliance on standardized testing in the educational system.

When students (particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds) are put through a mathematics curriculum which deemphasizes or even ignores the contributions of non-Western mathematicians, it can be discouraging, and discouraged students don't do well in math, and then we're back to the problem of people who are "bad at math" are considered less intelligent.

Come on man, you know most aren’t going to try to read such a paper when she makes statements such as “operates in whiteness” when talking about math or the teaching of math. or referring to the theories we learn from as Greek or European therefore they’re harder to understand for certain minorities.   

She may make some good points but she is going to lose a lot of smart, thinking people with trying to introduce privilige into something like math. 

While I marvel at people who are awesome at Math, I don’t hold them at any higher esteem than my English/Grammar nerd friends, or my Pharmacist friends, etc. One of the smartest people I know has a Marketing Degree. 

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10 hours ago, japantiger said:

My favorite quote:  'Exploring challenging pedagogical questions is exactly what faculty in a world-class college of education should be doing.'...You know, I don't remember  any  challenging pedagogical questions on my EE or CS or Finance  tests....I just remember a s*** load of math....so, which type of math is the most priveliged?  Addition? Subtraction?  Division?....I know, it was that friggin' thermodynamics.... but the real interesting part of all this is that I didn't know the Babylonians and Egyptians were white....those white bastards and their dead gum advanced concepts...

:rimshot:

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2 hours ago, aujeff11 said:

You got it.

Don’t ever make fun of the birthers or any other fringe nut crazies again if you seriously believe that s***. Yeah, she has good points but the totality of the message is garbage. 

 

 

WTF?

Don't try to make sense out of this Jeff. It is senseless. Just another way for someone to yell racism.

It's all about that race, bout that race, no treble.:party:

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11 hours ago, Bigbens42 said:

I mean, it's not going to be clear from either The Daily Heil or Campus Reform, both of which are conservative grievance industry outlets. 

I'd encourage everyone to read her work. 

http://ed-osprey.gsu.edu/ojs/index.php/JUME/article/view/223/148

I personally don't agree with everything she's saying, but she's well-reasoned and justified to make the points she does. She's coming from the point of view of teaching math to minority students in predominantly underfunded and undersupported schools. Using math as a proxy for general intelligence is bad, but the truth of the matter is that math is used as such a proxy, both in the context of treating individuals skilled at math as universally more intelligent as well as the reliance on standardized testing in the educational system.

When students (particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds) are put through a mathematics curriculum which deemphasizes or even ignores the contributions of non-Western mathematicians, it can be discouraging, and discouraged students don't do well in math, and then we're back to the problem of people who are "bad at math" are considered less intelligent.

Ok, I read it.  

My thoughts:

When we operate with mathematics as an objective arbiter of truth, we maintain its status as pure, separate from and even superior to other fields. However, similar to whiteness, mathematics holds unearned privilege in society.

This is the only time "whiteness" appears in the paper.  But having read the whole thing, it reads like some liberal red meat tossed in - a little virtue signaling if you will - to get the heads nodding in favor.  As I'll mention later, she never gets around to proving that last statement, regardless of the silly association with "whiteness."

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Instead, in much of the West and the colonized world, mathematical proficiency is used as a proxy for intelligence. Yet there is nothing inherent in mathematics that qualifies it to deem one as intelligent.  That is the myth we have constructed: some people are good at mathematics and some are not; therefore, some people possess intelligence and some do not. In general, we fail to question the unearned privilege that mathematics holds in society, in part, because we are convinced that it is merely a reflection of our natural world. 

I think she attempts to attribute too much to just our view of math when it's really our view of "educated people."  We look at people who have acquired a great deal of knowledge - be it of math, science, history, philosophy - and we deem them intelligent.  She's overstating the case here.

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One way that mathematics operates as a proxy of intelligence is through reasoning (Walkerdine, 2004). Based on a Western conception of rationality, individuals are seen to progress through levels of reasoning until they reach the highest level of intellectual thought: abstracted logic. Abstraction requires an absence of intimacy and humanity.

In schools, the value placed on abstraction translates into an overreliance on algebra and calculus rather than other forms of mathematics and a privileging of the symbolic form, coming up with the correct equation or the most general rule, rather than understanding the meaning of variables or the context in which a mathematics problem occurs.

When abstract thinking represents the highest form of intellect, those who deviate from that form are seen as primitive.

 Hence, mathematics—by way of simultaneously being highly valued in society (conveying intelligence) and involving abstraction (requiring an individual to separate from one’s body and emotions)—can be viewed as a form of microaggression...
 

The reason abstracted logic is considered to be such a high point of intellectual thought is that it is the hardest for most to achieve.  The ability to get outside oneself and to successfully minimize or eliminate one's personal biases and attempt to see something objectively is a difficult task for everyone.  To think theoretically is not a natural ability for us, but it's critical to expanding one's intelligence.  Anyone can understand concrete realities and anyone can understand things that fit within their own experience.  To be able to step outside of one's self in thinking -  that is a next level ability in intelligence and there's nothing wrong with seeing it that way.

The use of the word "primitive" is prejudicial here.  No one sees it that way.  It's just that concrete application is an easier thing for most to attain or grasp.  The abstract concepts that even make concrete application possible are much harder and fewer people can do it well.

And don't even get me started on her repeated use of the term "microaggression" in this paper.

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Her examples of school districts that supposedly implemented successful "alternate" math programs that ostensibly fit within her preferred methods don't really give much detail in terms of what the differences in the approaches were, or much in the way of data to show that her preferred approaches were more successful.  She simply says they were successful, then notes they didn't get support and were made to discard the new approaches for more traditional ones.  The question that's never answered is, "by what standard was the new approach more successful?"  Another question not asked or answered is, "did the new approach translate into measurable improved ability to do the math?"  Maybe it did, maybe it didn't, but her paper gives us nothing to go on other than her word.  

Looking at a list of "achievements" in how some are pushing for changes in the way math is taught, I saw a mixed bag at best:

- Instituting regular learning logs to help students get in touch with what they are learning and what they still need to learn, rather than just relying on test scores to indicate their achievement.  GOOD IDEA

- Renaming a course to reflect the fact that it only covers Western, Euclidian geometry, not all geometries that are practiced in the worldPURE SILLINESS.  Aside from the impetus here to tar something with a "western" label, that's just not how Geometry is taught.  Even back in the 80s when I was taking it, we were being taught non-Euclidian analytic geometry.

- Standing up to an administrator in a public meeting when he implied that Black student culture was the cause of the achievement gap at their school.  Without context, impossible to evaluate.  "Implied" is a loaded term and quite subjective.  

- Challenging a school dress-code policy that disproportionately penalized Black students for wearing “sagging pants.”  Irrelevant. Sorry, but dress codes will be a thing the rest of your life.  Get used to it.  Whether it's a workplace that requires collared shirts and dress pants, or simply that your pants aren't worn in a way that allows most of your ass to hang out, this isn't about being black.

- Refusing to go along with procedures at a workshop that asked teachers to publicly advocate for the Common Core State Standards in mathematics.  POSSIBLY GOOD.  DEPENDS ON WHAT ASPECT OF COMMON CORE THEY WERE ARGUING AGAINST.

- Convincing a co-teacher that the mathematics being taught needed to reflect a more rigorous curriculum so that students understood why particular procedures worked. GOOD.  NOTHING WRONG WITH CONNECTING ABSTRACT KNOWLEDGE TO CONCRETE APPLICATION.

- Helping lead a professional development workshop so that local teachers could reflect on how their definitions of mathematics influenced who did well in their mathematics classes????

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With greater awareness of the unearned privilege that mathematics holds in society, teachers are better prepared to rethink their role in how mathematics is carried out in school and society. 

This was in her conclusion, but after reading the paper it comes off to me as begging the question - it assumes something that her paper failed to prove.

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The paper itself doesn't appear to be quite as controversial as some of her statements about it.  But I still find many if not most of her contentions to range from silly to unsubstantiated, with a few good ideas mixed in.

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3 hours ago, aujeff11 said:

You got it.

Don’t ever make fun of the birthers or any other fringe nut crazies again if you seriously believe that s***. Yeah, she has good points but the totality of the message is garbage.

WTF?

Some of the language rankles me, but her overall point that mathematics teachers really do need to be far more aware of the political context of mathematics and how it's perceived in society is entirely reasonable.

And keep in mind she's writing in an academic form in an academic journal for an academic audience, where privilege has a well-defined meaning. Tumblr has ruined the phrase. I think criticizing her choice of the word privilege is like getting mad at a topologist for saying using compact space to mean something other than a parking spot for a small car.

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12 minutes ago, Bigbens42 said:

Some of the language rankles me, but her overall point that mathematics teachers really do need to be far more aware of the political context of mathematics and how it's perceived in society is entirely reasonable.

Identification and its political context have nothing to do with math. 

 

12 minutes ago, Bigbens42 said:

And keep in mind she's writing in an academic form in an academic journal for an academic audience, where privilege has a well-defined meaning. Tumblr has ruined the phrase. I think criticizing her choice of the word privilege is like getting mad at a topologist for saying using compact space to mean something other than a parking spot for a small car.

Forget the word, it’s her argument that’s garbage. “Whiteness” is just as bad. 

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To wit, some of her statements in other publications on the subject are more direct about this connection between "whiteness" and privileging math:

 

“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” Gutierrez argued.

Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans."

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“If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”

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Whether she likes it or not, much of math is always and by necessity going to be abstract.  It's how mathematics expands and uncovers new knowledge and facets about reality.  Without it, most of the most groundbreaking achievements in physics and other sciences would never be possible and if she's pushing for concrete or "application based" mathematical knowledge to be given more weight, then the community of mathematicians and math teachers are right to push back.

I also sort of recoil at the notion that black and Latino students can't think abstractly or be taught to do so with proficiency.  It may be unintentional, but it's what she ends up arguing in a sense.

 

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8 minutes ago, TitanTiger said:

To wit, some of her statements in other publications on the subject are more direct about this connection between "whiteness" and privileging math:

 

“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” Gutierrez argued.

Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans."

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“If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”

---------------

Whether she likes it or not, much of math is always and by necessity going to be abstract.  It's how mathematics expands and uncovers new knowledge and facets about reality.  Without it, most of the most groundbreaking achievements in physics and other sciences would never be possible and if she's pushing for concrete or "application based" mathematical knowledge to be given more weight, then the community of mathematicians and math teachers are right to push back.

I also sort of recoil at the notion that black and Latino students can't think abstractly or be taught to do so with proficiency.  It may be unintentional, but it's what she ends up arguing in a sense.

 

It’s almost like she is arguing there can be intellectual equality.

And I still believe the following to be true today and it applies to all races. W.E.B Dubois  The Talented Tenth

Some just deal with the abstract more poorly than the others. Calling the vehicle that brings the cream of the crop to the top “racist” is nothing more than the “alarm from mediocrity.”

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I am personally like Jethro Bodine. Once I run out of fingers and toes I am done counting.

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Maths is so racist, which is obviously why all those economically prosperous nations like India, mainland China, Southeast Asian countries, etc, etc. are whipping ass in mathematics and taking names.  It all makes perfect sense, if only non-white demographics of America had access to the caliber of schools they have in India (you know, a country still clawing its way into 2nd-world status in most regions) we would find absolute academic-equality (LOL).

Chalk up another brilliant theory by a left-wing "academic".

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