The new woke focus on math is a focus on race.

John McWhorter has a piece over at Substack that asks if it is racist to expect black kids to do math. The answer in the real world is, of course, no. The answer to the woke generation if, of course.

*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.*

*The idea is to show us how our racial reckoning of late ought change how we expose black kids to math. I suppose the counsel is also intended for kids of other types of melanin, but this is in essence a document that could be called “Math For Black Kids.”*

*The latest is that state-level policy makers in Oregon are especially intrigued by this document. There is all reason to suppose that its influence will spread more widely.*

*And this is to resisted, as this lovely pamphlet is teaching us that it is racist to expect black kids to master the precision of math. To wit – its message, penned by people who consider themselves some of the most morally advanced souls in the history of the human species, is one that Strom Thurmond would have happily taken a swig of whiskey to.*

*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. *

The piece focuses on the main idea that getting the ‘right’ answer isn’t the goal. Making kids, particularly black kids, feel better about getting any answer is the goal.

That of course hurts anyone studying math, and is inherently racist in and of itself.

McWhorter continues:

T*he 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.”*

*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.*

I have talked about the racism of low expectations. This is what that looks like. The base of this theory is that black kids can’t do math like white or Asian kids, so we have to change the rules or outcomes for them.

Former socialist Romanian, Princeton math professor Sergiu Klainerman has another piece at Substack that explains there is no racism in math.

*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.*

She wrote, and added:

*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.*

Then she brought the piece home. And will likely be canceled for it.

*There is no such thing as “white” mathematics. There is no reason to assume, as the 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.*

But there will be no opposition. At least none that is allowed. The names of ‘equity’ and ‘anti-racism’ rule academia. They have ruined universities, and are ruining public schools. If you want to know why America is falling behind in stem careers, or medical careers, or anything outside of gender studies and art degrees all you have to do is look at this. Chinese, Korean, and Iranian kids are not worried about the inherent racism of math. They want to get the right answer to build the bridge, or the computer chip, or missile that will make a real difference in the world.

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