Education

Professor: ‘Mathematics Itself Operates as Whiteness’

(Photo: Nomadsoul1/Dreamstime)
Shouldn’t we teach math based solely on the standard of what is important for students to learn in order to succeed?

A math-education professor at the University of Illinois wrote about some of the more racist aspects of math in a new anthology for teachers, arguing that “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,” Rochelle Gutierrez wrote, according to an article in Campus Reform.

Confused? Think that math is just math? Well, you’re wrong; math might as well be called “white math,” because as Gutierrez explained, “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”

As further evidence of her argument, Gutierrez added that more white than nonwhite people are math professors and that math professors often benefit from “unearned privilege” — getting more grants and more respect than other professors — just because they are math professors and not professors in another academic field.

“Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?” she asked.

Now, whenever I see stories like this, I just have to ask one question: What, exactly is Gutierrez proposing that we do? Because other than her statement that “things cannot be known objectively; they must be known subjectively” — apparently, a suggestion that additional focus, respect, and grants should be given to nonmathematical fields — I’m not really seeing one.

There’s one thing about Gutierrez’s work, however, that I can totally get down with.

This is particularly true when it comes to her statement that math curricula “emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi” makes math seem too Greek and European. To me, it seems like the decision about what to teach in mathematics should be based solely on the standard of what will be most important for students to learn in order to succeed.

There’s one thing about Gutierrez’s work, however, that I can totally get down with: the idea that math-y type people shouldn’t automatically be seen as being smarter than non-math-y type people. After all, I was an English major; I still add and subtract using my fingers, but that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t think I’m a genius.

READ MORE:

Professor Allows Students to Choose Own Grades for ‘Stress Reduction’

’Future Dead Cops’: A Hateful Tweet Exposes an Academic Cancer

Teacher Fuels the War on Grammar with List of ‘Preferred Pronouns’

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Five Thoughts on the George Floyd Story

After a night of riots, looting, and arson in Minneapolis to protest the police killing of George Floyd, five thoughts spring to mind: One: It is always hazardous to draw sweeping conclusions about society from individual criminal cases. Every individual case involves individual facts, and those facts often ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Five Thoughts on the George Floyd Story

After a night of riots, looting, and arson in Minneapolis to protest the police killing of George Floyd, five thoughts spring to mind: One: It is always hazardous to draw sweeping conclusions about society from individual criminal cases. Every individual case involves individual facts, and those facts often ... Read More
White House

There’s No Fix for Trump’s Bad Tweets

Whether social media have been good or bad for society is an open question. Whether social media have been good or bad for President Trump isn’t as difficult to discern. For even the most sober-minded and introspective figures, Twitter can serve as a dangerous temptation. For a man as capricious and mercurial ... Read More
White House

There’s No Fix for Trump’s Bad Tweets

Whether social media have been good or bad for society is an open question. Whether social media have been good or bad for President Trump isn’t as difficult to discern. For even the most sober-minded and introspective figures, Twitter can serve as a dangerous temptation. For a man as capricious and mercurial ... Read More
Economy & Business

Boiling Over

Andrew Ross Sorkin’s frustration over having missed so much of the post-COVID realities in markets and economic life boiled over this morning in one of the more outrageous outbursts I have ever witnessed on financial media. Perhaps this outburst was rivaled only by his behavior during the March COVID market ... Read More
Economy & Business

Boiling Over

Andrew Ross Sorkin’s frustration over having missed so much of the post-COVID realities in markets and economic life boiled over this morning in one of the more outrageous outbursts I have ever witnessed on financial media. Perhaps this outburst was rivaled only by his behavior during the March COVID market ... Read More
Economy & Business

The Spread of the Debt Virus

The current U.S. budget deficit could soon exceed a record $4 trillion. The massive borrowing is being driven both by prior budget profligacy and by a hurried effort by the Donald Trump administration to pump liquidity into a quarantined America. The shutdown has left the country on the cusp of a ... Read More
Economy & Business

The Spread of the Debt Virus

The current U.S. budget deficit could soon exceed a record $4 trillion. The massive borrowing is being driven both by prior budget profligacy and by a hurried effort by the Donald Trump administration to pump liquidity into a quarantined America. The shutdown has left the country on the cusp of a ... Read More

The Need to Discuss Black-on-Black Crime

Thomas Abt’s book Bleeding Out (2019) has garnered a fair amount of attention for its proposals to deal with gun violence in mainly black urban neighborhoods. The entire focus of the book is on interventions in high-crime locations to stem the violence, including: hot-spots policing, working with young males at ... Read More

The Need to Discuss Black-on-Black Crime

Thomas Abt’s book Bleeding Out (2019) has garnered a fair amount of attention for its proposals to deal with gun violence in mainly black urban neighborhoods. The entire focus of the book is on interventions in high-crime locations to stem the violence, including: hot-spots policing, working with young males at ... Read More