The right answer 7

We do not believe in gods and no one here in the United States of America expects us to.

But we are expected to believe that some 80,000,000 Americans voted for a frail, unintelligent, corrupt, demented old career politician who has never done anything good for them, never could and never will, to be their president.

And we are expected to believe that 2+2=any number according to taste.

It’s a matter of ideology. Leftism. The ideology that put up the senile old man as its presidential candidate.

One of its doctrines is that “people of color” cannot do math. So math is a failure. A blot on the intellectual history of humankind. Racially discriminating.

It can be reformed, however. Ideologically cleaned up. Purged of its racism. Transmuted into something more pliable, more adaptable to non-white people’s sensibilities, more indulgent of human emotion. Rendered less European, less colonialist, less accurate, less formidable.

Sergiu Klainerman, Romanian born professor of math at Princeton, writes at Bari Weiss’s website Clubhouse:

The woke ideology … treats both science and mathematics as social constructs and condemns the way they are practiced, in research and teaching, as manifestations of white supremacy, Euro-centrism, and post-colonialism.

Take for example the recent educational program called “a pathway to equitable math instruction”. The program is backed financially by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; it counts among its partners the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, the California Math project, the Association of California School Administrators, and the Los Angeles County Office of Education, among others; and it was recently sent to Oregon teachers by the state’s Department of Education.

The program argues that “white supremacy culture shows up in the classroom when the focus is on getting the ‘right’ answer” or when students are required to show their work, while stipulating that “the very concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false”. The main goal of the program is “to dismantle racism in mathematics instruction” with the expressly political aim of engaging “the sociopolitical turn in all aspects of education, including mathematics”. 

In the past, I would have said that such statements should be ignored as too radical and absurd to merit refutation. But recent trends across the country suggest that we no longer have that luxury.

So let me state the following for the record: Nothing in the history and current practice of mathematics justifies the notion that it is in any way different or dependent on the particular race or ethnic group engaged in it.

For historical reasons, we often discuss contributions to the field of mathematics from the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians and Arabs and refer to them as distinct entities. They have all contributed through a unique cultural dialogue to the creation of a truly magnificent edifice accessible today to every man and woman on the planet. Though we pay tribute to great historical figures who inform the practice of mathematics, the subject can be taught — and often is — with no reference to the individuals who have contributed to it. In that sense it is uniquely universal. 

Schools throughout the world teach the same basic body of mathematics. They differ only by the methodology and intensity with which they instruct students. 

It is precisely this universality of math — together with the extraordinary ability of American universities to reward hard work and talent — that allowed me, and so many other young scientists and mathematicians, to come to this country and achieve success beyond our wildest dreams. 

The idea that focusing on getting the “right answer” is now considered among some self-described progressives a form of bias or racism is offensive and extraordinarily dangerous.

The entire study of mathematics is based on clearly formulated definitions and statements of fact. If this were not so, bridges would collapse, planes would fall from the sky, and bank transactions would be impossible.

The ability of mathematics to provide right answers to well-formulated problems is not something specific to one culture or another; it is really the essence of mathematics. To claim otherwise is to argue that somehow the math taught in places like Iran, China, India or Nigeria is not genuinely theirs but borrowed or forged from “white supremacy culture”. It is hard to imagine a more ignorant and offensive statement. 

Finally, and most importantly, the woke approach to mathematics is particularly poisonous to those it pretends to want to help. Let’s start with the reasonable assumption that mathematical talent is equally distributed at birth to children from all socio-economic backgrounds, independent of ethnicity, sex and race. Those born in poor, uneducated families have clear educational disadvantages relative to others. But mathematics can act as a powerful equalizer. Through its set of well-defined, culturally unbiased, unambiguous set of rules, mathematics gives smart kids the potential to be, at least in this respect, on equal footing with all others. They can stand out by simply finding the right answers to questions with objective results. 

There is no such thing as “white” mathematics. There is no reason to assume, as the [Leftist racist] activists do, that minority kids are not capable of mathematics or of finding the “right answers”.  And there can be no justification for, in the name of “equity” or anything else, depriving students of the rigorous education that they need to succeed.

The real antiracists will stand up and oppose this nonsense.

And John McWhorter, black American linguist and associate professor of English at Columbia, writes:

There is a document getting around called Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction, a guide put together by a group of educators. It has a black boy on the cover.

… This is in essence a document that could be called Math For Black Kids.

… This lovely pamphlet is teaching us that it is racist to expect black kids to master the precision of math. …

Of course the authors have it that “The framework for deconstructing racism in mathematics offers essential characteristics of antiracist math educators and critical approaches to dismantling white supremacy in math classrooms by visualizing the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture.” But translated, this means that math as we have always known it is racism. That’s a rich claim … But is it correct? Let’s see how it holds up. …

This entire document is focused on an idea that making black kids be precise is immoral.

The document pays lip service otherwise, claiming at one point to seek to “teach rich, thoughtful, complex mathematics”.  … But the thrust of this pamphlet is that:

    1. a focus on getting the “right” answer is “perfectionism” or “either/or thinking”;
    2. the idea that teachers are teachers and students are learners is wrong;
    3. to think of it as a problem that the expectations you have of students are not met is racist;
    4. to teach math in a linear fashion with skills taught in sequence is racist;
    5. to value “procedural fluency” – i.e. knowing how to do the fractions, long division … — over “conceptual knowledge” is racist. That is, black kids are brilliant to know what math is trying to do, to know “what it’s all about”, rather than to actually do the math, just as many of us read about what physics or astrophysics accomplishes without ever intending to master the math that led to the conclusions;
    6. to require students to “show their work” is racist;
    7. requiring students to raise their hand before speaking “can reinforce paternalism and powerhoarding, in addition to breaking the process of thinking, learning, and communicating”.

(All italicized emphasis is in the original.)

You may wonder if this is a cartoon but no, this is real! This is actually what this document tells us, again and again. This, folks, is the Critical Race Theory that so many of us are resisting, not a simple program for “social justice”. To distrust this document is not to be against social justice, but against racism. …

The main thing is that those who see that this document is a racist screed must resist it if it pops up in your school district. Know that it may not be instantly aired that this specific document is being pored over by the people entrusted with the education of your children. However, sniff out the basic tenets I numbered above, and then ask if this thing has been shared by the school board members.

Many will dislike the general flavor of it but, amidst so much we all have to pay attention to, may question just what we must object to specifically about Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction.

There are two things. Racism and religion. Just those.

As in, first it is racism propounded as antiracism. Black kids shouldn’t be expected to master the precision of math and should be celebrated for talking around it, gamely approximating its answers and saying why it can be dangerous? This is bigotry right out of Reconstruction, Tulsa, Selma, and Charlottesville.

Second, it is not science but scripture. It claims to be about teaching math while founded on shielding students from the requirement to actually do it. … It does so with an implication that only a moral transgressor numb to some larger point would question the contradiction. This is, as such, a religious document, telling you to accept that Jesus walked on water. …

This is not pedagogy; it is preaching.

Thank you, Professor Klainerman and Professor McWhorter, for giving the right answer.