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Seattle Schools Propose To Teach That Math Education Is RacistóWill California Be Far Behind?
Hoover Institute ^ | Tuesday, October 29, 2019 | Lee Ohanian

Posted on 11/10/2019 7:39:16 AM PST by robowombat

Seattle Schools Propose To Teach That Math Education Is Racist—Will California Be Far Behind? by Lee Ohanian

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

California’s latest K–12 test scores were released earlier this month. Despite spending 26 percent more per pupil after inflation since 2011, test scores remain low, and improvement is proceeding at a glacial pace. Just 40 percent of California schoolchildren are proficient at math. What should be done? Seattle’s idea is to teach their students that US math education is racist, is used to oppress people of color and the disadvantaged, and has been used to exploit natural resources.

According to Seattle educators, math instruction in the United States is an example of “Western Math,” which apparently is the appropriation of mathematical knowledge by Western cultures. While everyone agrees that two plus two is four, three times three is nine, and that there are three hundred and sixty degrees in a circle, Western Math critics worry about more nuanced issues, such as why we teach kids Western counting and not, for example, how the Aborigines count.

Apparently, ancient cultures also used different terminology to refer to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They may have focused on geometric shapes different from triangles and circles. They may have called the degrees in a circle something other than degrees. And now it seems that math education—in all of its abstraction—should become culturally and socially focused away from those Westerners who coopted it.

Seattle’s new proposed math curriculum will take US public school math instruction where no one has gone before.

Students will be taught how “Western Math” is used as a tool of power and oppression, and that it disenfranchises people and communities of color. They will be taught that “Western Math” limits economic opportunities for people of color. They will be taught that mathematics knowledge has been withheld from people of color.

If you are struggling to understand the logic of this, you are not alone. For the life of me, I don’t know how the Pythagorean theorem, for example, or Euclidean geometry, more broadly, oppress people or communities of color, or how these foundations of mathematics have been appropriated by Western culture.

In fact, I really doubt that anyone whose foremost interest is in culture—Western or otherwise—thinks much about Pythagoras or his famous theorem and whether the relationship between the sides of a triangle denigrates people of color or has been used to promote WASPs and the wealthy.

Seattle’s proposal implicitly claims that it will be more successful in teaching math. Perhaps, but I am unaware of any compelling evidence supporting this view. And I see no reason why telling kids that they have been oppressed by “Western Math” would lead to better learning outcomes.

For example, would anyone understand geometry any better if they knew that Pythagoras may have been a vegetarian, or that he may have practiced mysticism? (I am assuming that these two practices are outside mainstream Western culture, but then again, maybe the West has appropriated veganism and mysticism? This is really making my head spin.)

Would kids learn how to tabulate numbers more effectively if teachers spent weeks describing the history and use of the Chinese abacus?

Seattle’s idea about racist math education will be right up California’s alley. Last August, California educators released a draft of a statewide ethnic studies curriculum for public comment.

The California curricular proposal also focuses on racism and is heavy on ideology, with pot shots taken at most anything and everything “Western.” Take for example capitalism. In one of the most uninformed economic criticisms I have ever seen, the proposal states that capitalism is a tool for power and oppression (sound familiar?), which fits right in with Seattle educators.

Just how bad is California’s student math performance? You can judge for yourself, based on the following question that was asked to 11th graders: Add the square root of 16 and the third root of 8.

The square root of 16 is 4 (4 x 4) and the third root of 8 is 2 (2 x 2 x 2). Four plus two is six. Doable for a 17-year old who has been taking mathematics, yes?

No. Only about 37 percent of students answered the question correctly. This percentage is not much above 25 percent, which would have been the number of correct answers if students had simply randomly guessed from the four possible answers provided. We had better either improve math education pronto or start to recruit better-trained students to the state.

There is a better way to help California’s kids succeed at math than to go down the road of racism and identity politics. Simply reintroduce the principles of math education used in the state before the development of Common Core curriculum.

Before Common Core, California had its own mathematics curriculum written primarily by Stanford University Mathematics Department faculty.

An independent review of California’s pre–Common Core math curriculum gave it a grade of “A” and noted, “If any state has math standards right, it’s California. The Golden State’s standards avoid almost all the pitfalls of other states. . . . All in all, the state has a top-notch blueprint for mathematical excellence.”

But as education experts have noted, the Common Core math curriculum was never developed to be on par with best-practice international standards, nor did Common Core provide adequate coverage of K–12 math topics.

It is not racism nor the appropriation of mathematical knowledge by Westerners that is the reason for deficient math learning by our children. It is something much simpler. It is a poorly designed math curriculum that the state mistakenly adopted. It is easy to improve.

Improving outcomes is easy in principle. Change the curriculum and add teachers who know how to teach math. But sadly, at least in California, this will be almost impossible to implement in practice.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; Philosophy; US: Washington
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To: hanamizu

Yep. It’s the elite members of the math education community that are mostly responsible for this. Why do they think this way? A combination of leftist bias (even if they don’t agree with the extreme “Western math is racist!” view, they are prone toward thinking anything from days gone by is bad) and lack of exposure to regular students. One mathematician I know spends 90% of the year flying around and giving lectures and presentations to mathematically gifted youth and their parents/teachers. Not surprisingly, he’s convinced that your average ten-year-old can make the same logical connections that the students he talks to do. Out of touch.


81 posted on 11/10/2019 9:03:56 AM PST by Stravinsky
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To: robowombat

All the Asian and East Asians math academics must be hoping this stupid idea catches fire across the U.S., so more competition for them is eliminated.


82 posted on 11/10/2019 9:04:08 AM PST by Wuli
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To: robowombat

Progressives need to listen to the scientists.


83 posted on 11/10/2019 9:05:07 AM PST by Brilliant
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To: robowombat

This, of course, is nothing more than blame shifting being used as an ideological wrecking ball by “progressive” forces (that is communists).

The ironic thing is that, once in power, these people are absolutely egalitarian when it comes to applying the oppressive power of the state.
When the utility of POC as useful idiots is exhausted, they will be abandoned without even a second thought or backward glance.


84 posted on 11/10/2019 9:08:52 AM PST by Captain Rhino (Determined effort today forges tomorrow.)
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To: Stravinsky

“Why do they think this way?... and lack of exposure to regular students.


Many don’t want to acknowledge that people are born with different gifts. I knew one musically gifted guy who could jump from guitar, which he was good at, to a banjo, which he’d never played before, and in an hour or so, be playing it reasonably well. He denied he had a gift for music, but there it was. I cannot reliably tap my foot in time with music.

Natural math ability is a similar gift. Most don’t have it. Those who do may really enjoy exploring the wonders and pattern of math and probably do learn best by discovering things for themselves. Many math teachers no doubt have been at least partially touched by the gift. But for most humans, math instead of being a thing of beauty is a tool. A tool, that in order to be useful, must be mastered. And this is where we are failing today’s students.

The NCTM probably really do think that by exposing kids to the wonders of the patterns of math, the kids will come to love it just like they do. In my experience, it’s just not true. All that happens is the kids are confused and end up mastering nothing—and they are deprived of the benefits of the tool that math is.


85 posted on 11/10/2019 9:17:57 AM PST by hanamizu
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To: hanamizu

Ping


86 posted on 11/10/2019 9:19:54 AM PST by YankeeMagic
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To: Kozak

China is laughing at us!


87 posted on 11/10/2019 9:20:01 AM PST by cgbg (The Democratic Party is morphing into the Donner Party)
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To: robowombat

Those poor corporations who will skip trillions more in citizen taxes are saddened. Now they have no choice but ship in our replacements.


88 posted on 11/10/2019 9:24:00 AM PST by momincombatboots (Ephesians 6... who you are really at war with)
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To: robowombat

why not just come right out and declare all education is racist? Stop chipping away at higher education and destroy it outright! That way we can all sit around campfires (provided someone can figure out how to start one) and grunt at each other- gee- won’t that be grand?


89 posted on 11/10/2019 9:26:19 AM PST by Bob434
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To: robowombat

More good news along with the liberals pushing gay sex in class rooms.

If they keep doing this and other self destructive/deadly behaviors, the liberals will not be a factor in two decades.


90 posted on 11/10/2019 9:27:57 AM PST by Grampa Dave (If we have a civil war, the winners will be our enemies: Iran, China, Mexico, & Deep State)
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To: robowombat

Than God for computerized cash registers and self serve kiosks. Imagine the generation being taught by these socialist schools trying to figure out correct change in their heads.


91 posted on 11/10/2019 9:31:15 AM PST by redcatcherb412
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To: robowombat

Are they publicly and legislatively saying blacks have an inferior intelligence? I would think THAT would be racist.


92 posted on 11/10/2019 9:35:29 AM PST by ThePatriotsFlag (Congress is not made up of leaders however they are representatives of their voters.)
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To: robowombat

That’s sextist.


93 posted on 11/10/2019 9:40:49 AM PST by MrEdd (Caveat Emptors)
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To: Chode

In Baltimore, they don’t. 0% in half Baltimore’s high schools aren’t proficient in math. 9 of 10 black boys aren’t proficient in reading.


94 posted on 11/10/2019 9:49:46 AM PST by bgill
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To: robowombat

“Students will be taught how “Western Math” is used as a tool of power and oppression, and that it disenfranchises people and communities of color. They will be taught that “Western Math” limits economic opportunities for people of color.”

Chairman Mao and his cultural revolution is alive and well in Seattle.Trump needs to build a fence around Seattle as well as the southern border.


95 posted on 11/10/2019 10:16:46 AM PST by chuckee
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To: robowombat

seattle schools do not teach. The system pays off the educators and indoctrinates the students

Needing educated employees, Boeing will complete the moves elsewhere


96 posted on 11/10/2019 10:21:02 AM PST by bert ( (KE. NP. N.C. +12) Progressives are existential American enemies)
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To: bgill

kinda makes it hard to figure out profit and loss on crack sales...


97 posted on 11/10/2019 10:23:46 AM PST by Chode (Send bachelors and come heavily armed.)
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To: robowombat

98 posted on 11/10/2019 10:51:04 AM PST by 4Liberty (The taxpayers can always take one more for the team. - The Government)
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To: KC_for_Freedom
Better tools led to better engineers and it was not the use of the tool that led us to become socialist idiots.

I worked in a family business for eight years before I went back to school. By that time every engineering student I knew was pining after the best programmable scientific calculator they could afford. I was no different than the rest. Of course I wanted the best HP, but had to settle for a cheaper Casio graphing calculator. I also had a little radio shack TRS 80 handheld computer that had BASIC built in which was pretty handy.

These were useful devices and in many ways allowed students to go beyond what we would have been able to achieve without them. But these days it seems like things have gone off the rails and many students seem to be losing there ability to reason out even basic problems.

A couple weeks ago I cut down six tall trees in our front yard. The tallest was 120 feet according to my calculations using one of those walk behind measuring devices with a wheel and an adjustable protractor with a level. I wanted to make sure that when I dropped it in the right direction that it would not take out the neighbors’ fence. My best friend was an engineering student also, so I asked him to double check my calculations and measurements. He had forgotten all of these basic trigonometric functions that we both learned when we were about 12. Then the neighbor came out to see what we were up to. He actually spent almost his entire career working as an aeronautic engineer. He had an app on his phone that cost $2 and could be used to figure the height of just about anything using the camera, but he was also having a bit of trouble remembering the basic trigonometry. It was actually quite funny to me.

99 posted on 11/10/2019 10:51:26 AM PST by fireman15
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To: robowombat

Math is definitely discriminatory.

If you don’t know it, you’re probably going to end up working for somebody who does.

Just because public schools will now start to refuse to teach it does not mean it does not exist, nor does it mean that some kids will not learn it out of sheer curiosity, or out of rebellion against ignorance.


100 posted on 11/10/2019 10:54:31 AM PST by RFEngineer
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