Quick Takes – Broke: Mathematics; Woke: STEAM; Bespoke: Social Justice Mathematics

     Another “quick takes” on items where there is too little to say to make a complete article, but is still important enough to comment on.

     The focus this time: 2 + 2 = 5

     First, a little mood music:

     Carrying on…

     What would a professor who specialized in “equity issues in mathematics education” think what should be don’t about all that icky “objects, truths, and knowledge” in math?

     Something called “Mathematx

“The relationship between humans, mathematics, and the planet has been one steeped too long in domination and destruction. What are appropriate responses to reverse such a relationship? How do we do work now (inside and outside of schools) that will reverberate and touch the lives of future generations? Drawing upon Indigenous worldviews to reconceptualize what mathematics is and how it is practiced, I argue for a movement against objects, truths, and knowledge towards a way of being in the world that is guided by first principles–mathematx. This shift from thinking of mathematics as a noun to mathematx as a verb holds potential for honouring our connections with each other as human and other-than-human persons, for balancing problem solving with joy, and for maintaining critical bifocality at the local and global level.”

     So, how does a woke person “fix” mathematics, as well as science, technology, and engineering? Toss in something dominated largely by the Left:

“The diversity mandate metastasizes in unexpected ways. Nothing better illustrates its ability to spread than the incorporation of art into STEM fields, a fusion merrily dubbed STEAM. The arts are an arena of subjective, expressive activity in which concepts of correct or incorrect do not apply. Standards of achievement in the arts are not subject to verification or falsification. That makes the arts a perfect staging ground for retreat from rigor in the name of ideologically driven criteria.

“The STEM to STEAM movement rests on the fallacy that artists are the apogees of creativity. Spearheaded by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the movement purports to bolster our flagging national intelligence by convincing educrats and politicians that art and design are ‘poised to transform our economy in the 21st century, just as science and technology did in the last century.'”

     So, how does one actually implement “Social Justice” in mathematics? By explicitly testing students about it.

“A professor teaching a general education math course at Penn State University included pages of his personal opinion on politics and social justice issues in exams.

“Campus Reform received copies of exams, including a midterm, from an anonymous student who was concerned by the political nature of the course material when they took Professor Marc Fabbri’s math class last spring. The course material contains large portions of political opinion that have little relevance to the course topic.

“The course, ‘Finite Mathematics,’ is designed for non-science majors and fulfills a general education requirement. The course is described by Penn State as an ‘introduction to logic, sets, [and] probability,’ however, the take-home tests Campus Reform received appear to contain the professor’s personal opinion and few math problems.

“Fabbri details several seemingly random environmental efforts in the Great Lakes as well as the 1965 Clean Water Act signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in section three of a course document titled ‘Would the Real Trump University Please Stand Up’.”


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