Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Antiracist Math

 From p. 26 of A Pathway to EquitableMath Instruction which seems to be a California state education funded project:

Also, many teachers prefer to teach procedural fluency so students engage with more complex problem solving because they believe that they have to do the basic, or computation, skills before they can apply the mathematics. But that idea also reinforces objectivity by requiring linear processing, which is oftentimes not necessary. This is related to sequential thinking, without interrogating the need for that particular sequence of learning. In addition, many teachers are more comfortable teaching skills-based work, and if they do that more often, they are reinforcing their own right to comfort.
They seem to be saying that BIPOCs can't learn basic math skills and that math is not objective. Can anyone think of anything less racist and culturally related than "x+20 = 40; solve for x"? They are preparing BIPOCs for a future that assumes that they cannot learn skills that non-whites can learn just fine, or Asian kids would not so readily outscore Americans on math tests. 12/4/21 Voice of America:

Students in China, Singapore, Macao, Estonia, Japan, Finland, Korea, Canada and Hong Kong are among those who eclipse U.S. students in reading, math and science, according to an international study of education worldwide.

In a snapshot of the abilities of 15-year-old students in the subjects of reading, math and science, pupils in four provinces in China — Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang — outperformed their peers in mathematics and science “by a wide margin,” according to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Students in the four provinces also topped reading scores, with only those in Singapore coming close.

Asian nations took the top seven slots in math. Following the combined four provinces in China were Singapore, Macao, Hong Kong, Taipei, Japan and Korea. Estonia, the Netherlands and Poland rounded out the top 10. The U.S. ranked 37th, behind such countries as Canada, Sweden, the U.K., Germany, France, Australia, Russia, Italy and Hungary.

Even in America, Asian-Americans outscore whites in math:

Asian American children exhibit stronger math and reading skills than white children at school entry, a pattern that has motivated scholars to examine early childhood to determine when and why these gaps form. Yet, to date, it has been unclear what parenting practices might explain this “Asian Advantage.” Analyzing more than 4,100 children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Birth Cohort, we find that the role of parenting is complex. Asian American parents have high educational expectations compared with whites but are less engaged in traditional measures of parenting (e.g., reading to the child, maternal warmth, parent-child relationship), and these differences matter for understanding the Asian American/white math advantage in early childhood. Thus, even by age four, Asian American parents (across ethnic subgroups) play an important but complex role in the development of a child’s cognitive skills in the first few years of life.

That white privilege thing again!  This constant yelling that BIPOCs (at least non-Asian BIPOCs) do badly at math because of racism is an attempt to explain poor performance by explanations that are clearly wrong, and show a severe contempt for BIPOC abilities.  Is the inferior public education in inner city schools an explanation?  That would question the effects of public education and public educators (on average).

Remember that this is an averages situation.  A friend is Asian.  In high school math classes, whites wanted to sit within copying distance because everyone knew Asians were superior at math; he tells me that they were disappointed.

This whole white privilege and antiracism movement is an attempt to move responsibility from crummy public schools and a destructive inner city subculture onto people who have nothing to do with it.

On p. 7:

• The focus is on getting the “right” answer. 
• Independent practice is valued over teamwork or collaboration. 
• “Real-world math” is valued over math in the real world

So getting x=1/3 on the above example is just fine?  Please don't build any bridges or calculate any dosages for odd weight patients!

The real-world math sentence seems to be an anti-tautology, which I suppose is appropriate for a work that considers treat BIPOCs as different from whites and Asians to be antiracism.  And also on p.7:
• Students are required to “show their work.”

This helps to figure where a student went wrong in solving the problem, but there are no wrong answers so it does not matter. 

• Grading practices are focused on lack of knowledge.

I could have sworn the goal was to improve knowledge.  Testing verifies learning; someone clearly thinks knowledge and accomplishment are white/Asian values.  So a BIPOC does not learn enough algebra to handle STEM classes?  Why is that a problem?

This whole thing feels like the KKK teaches math to kids "who are only going to work in the cotton fields, anyway." They are preparing BIPOCs to be gang members or welfare recipients, but even drug dealers need to calculate profit and loss.


  1. Bill Gates appears to be the top donor driving this campaign.

    Washington Free Beacon

  2. Acronyms... Okay, I give up. What's a "BIPOC"? (I assume it has something to do with "people of color", but what?)

    1. black, Indigenous and people of color: https://www.thebipocproject.org/

  3. I remember someone called into a radio show about 18-20 years ago complaining that the reason the Asian students did better in math was they studied together and helped one another do the problems. The show host was asking, "so why not do that with your own kids?
    It was almost as if he was complaining that having someone at home to make the kid do his homework was "White Privilege", i.e. something only white parents could do.