Just as physicists are recognizing the mathematical nature of reality more clearly, the basic idea of getting math right is under fire in our schools:
Curiously, in a world that depends on mathematics — and offers intriguing math problems to ponder and maybe solve — in recent years, some educators have turned against math. They proclaim it to be an instance of white male supremacy because, in recent centuries, most mathematicians have been men of European ancestry (though historically, that is a phase, not a rule).
In September, Mind Matters News offered an update on the war on math. Here are some other recent developments as well:
➤ The California Math Framework claims “We reject ideas of natural gifts and talents … and the ‘cult of the genius.’” (Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2021) which leads the to advocate eliminating accelerated math classes for exceptionally proficient students before Grade 11. The research basis for the decision has come in for considerable skepticism. (Richard Bernstein, MercatorNet, October 27, 2021)News, “If reality is fundamentally mathematical, why the war on math?” at Mind Matters News (November 24, 2021)
➤ California both exemplifies and spells out the trend most clearly:
The framework recommends eight times that teachers use a troubling document, “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction.” This manual claims that teachers addressing students’ mistakes forthrightly is a form of white supremacy. It sets forth indicators of “white supremacy culture in the mathematics classroom,” including a focus on “getting the right answer,” teaching math in a “linear fashion,” requiring students to “show their work” and grading them on demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter. “The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false,” the manual explains. “Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuates ‘objectivity.’ ” Apparently, that’s also racist.Williamson M. Evers, “California Woke Zealots Try to Cancel Math Class” at Independent Institute (May 19, 2020), also published at the Wall Street Journal
Takehome: Perhaps we all need to recall something: The Iron Ring of the Canadian engineers is forged from the steel of a bridge that collapsed and cost 75 lives. That ring is intended as a warning, not a training manual. It turns out that in the real world, right or wrong answers in math do matter.
You may also wish to read: Yes, there really is a war on math in our schools. Pundits differ as to the causes but here are some facts parents should know.
Further dispatches from the war on math (September 14, 2021) Discussions of social policy where math is relevant can be useful. But a student who does not understand how an equation works will fail at both math and social policy.