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Woke Mathematics

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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

Liberal, progressive ideas have invaded nearly every academic discipline. But I assumed that such nonsense would never be applied to mathematics. I was wrong. A “Math Ethnic Studies” program was introduced this year in the Seattle public schools. Let’s hope that what happens in Seattle, stays in Seattle.

A few commentators have been writing about this latest attempt at “woke mathematics” so I thought it was worth talking about. One writer said it is “chock full of social justice jargon that sounds smart but is actually vapid.” There is talk about power and oppression brought about, one would assume from the curriculum guidelines, due to white supremacy.

Students are supposed to identify “how math has been and continues to be used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color.” They must learn how “Western mathematics” has been used as a means of power and oppression. 

Jarrett Stepman, writing in the Daily Signal, concludes that this “curriculum will leave students with little actual knowledge or understanding of how to do math.” It seems designed to merely “radicalize young people with tales of oppression and groom them to be future social justice warriors.” The guidelines suggest that teachers “explain how math dictates economic oppression” and begin to “identify economic movements that have led to liberation.”

Columnist Rod Dreher concludes: “The young people who are going to learn real math are those whose parents can afford to put them in private schools. The public school kids of all races are going to get dumber and dumber.” He also wonders if there is anyone “with the courage to stand up to this?”

All of this nonsense reminds me of the famous quote in George Orwell’s book 1984 that true “freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four.”

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