Even in its darkest moments, the Soviet Union was led by a dictator whose goal was to build; by contrast, the woke destroy.
There are features of American wokeness that make me gasp that socialism in the U.S. is going to be worse than the USSR where I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. The ongoing effort to transform mathematics education into a crypto-Marxist indoctrination vehicle seems like the sign of things to come.
The California Department of Education recently drafted “Equitable Math” framework that, if implemented, will destroy what’s left of mathematics education in the Golden State. Along with the directive to privilege students on the basis of sex and skin color, the proposal essentially calls for the end of math. Fox News explains, “Another document calls for centering ‘ethnomathematics,’ designing a ‘culturally sustainable math space,’ and supporting students ’to reclaim their mathematical ancestry.'”
It’s a mouthful. “Centering” is a euphemism the woke invented to avoid using traditional English expressions like “give a privileged treatment to,” “to prioritize,” or “to focus on.” The idea that there is a “mathematical ancestry” — more wokester jargon —that’s up for reclaiming is poorly informed and reeking of insecurity.
All folk cultures have their ways of keeping track of numbers. They can be fascinating, and are collected and analyzed by anthropologists, not by mathematicians. Mathematicians work with immutable, and universal, laws of nature.
Mathematics developed over the course of centuries, and across many civilizations. Because it reveals eternal truths, it can be practiced by anyone. The purpose of a mathematics classroom is to teach students mathematics, not to confuse them with anthropological data relating to counting.
I don’t know what “culturally sustainable math space” refers to, but I do know that “ethnomathematics” will create a culture in which learning math will be an impossibility.
The term first surfaced after the introduction of “Ethnic Math” curriculum by Seattle public schools in 2019. The framework is designed by educational bureaucrats who, being raised in the decades following the adoption of New Math, seem to be unaware of how the discipline works. Therefore, “Ethnic Math” is loaded with cultural baggage that simply doesn’t belong to the discipline. When most Americans might have missed out on good STEM instructions, but still view attempts to present the truths discovered in the field as anything other than absolute with suspicion, many educational bureaucrats enthusiastically jumped on the woke math bandwagon.
I wrote about Seattle’s “Ethnic Math” guidelines at the time they were introduced last year. Seattle educrats peppered their reform manifesto with the communist cant of “liberation.” With all the confidence of the undereducated, they proceeded to inject thinking wholly alien to the discipline into their directives. For instance, students are asked questions like “Can you recognize and name oppressive mathematical practices in your experience?”
The most revealing question, however, is not about the “oppressive mathematical practices,” or even about doubting the centrality of being right. These discussion topics naturally flow out of lack of understanding of methodology revealed in the question “Why/how does data-driven processes prevent liberation?”
Math is not a data-driven, inductive field like the physical sciences where conclusions are reached by collecting and studying evidence. Math works by deduction, a top-down process of reaching conclusions that are true for all numbers. As I pointed out, because it’s deductive, math is “hermetically proofed from any ideological contamination. If physical sciences still depend on data-gathering, math does not. Feelings and subjective experiences absolutely cannot figure into mathematical inquiry.”
Historically, oppressed people found mathematics liberating. In the USSR, for instance, the discipline was the dissidents’ favorite because it allowed an individual to apply his intellect in the area where Communist Party’s tentacles simply couldn’t reach:
Thinking, honest people majored in the field because its tenets were a shelter from Marxism. A commissar may vanish from encyclopedias, genetics can be banned from universities, but two plus two is four, and there is nothing the general secretary can do about it.
The most direct and precise secular approach to knowing nature ever attempted by the human race is to study the mathematical laws governing the universe. They are beyond ideology, language, and subjectivity. More than any other discipline, mathematics allows people to exercise intellect outside the oppressive practices of a society.
I find it highly disturbing that bureaucrats manning our educational institutions are pushing the idea that 2+2 is not always 4. In part it’s happening because too many of them are obviously clueless. Moreover, American bureaucracies have a rather unfortunate tendency to innovate, which moves them to push one questionable approach after another, with “anti-racism” being merely the latest trend.
The main reason woke math is on the march is simple: the woke destroy. That’s what they do. Even in its darkest moments, the Soviet Union was led by a nationalistic dictator who had it as his goal to build, to expand the country. Soviets built like the animals built the windmill in Animal Farm, of course; they were highly inefficient, often counterproductive, and extraordinary cruel. Still, the idea was to build, and they did create a subculture of highly educated, though often insubordinate elite.
After consolidating power, Bolsheviks moved to industrialize the backward empire they inherited. The country was illiterate, the educated pre-revolutionary elite fled the country. Unable to fill vacancies with homegrown experts, Communists resorted to importing British and American engineers for their pet projects like Dnieper Hydroelectric Station that was completed shortly before Hitler invaded the USSR.
Because much of the early Soviet propaganda effort was focused on building the new world of communism, the key figure in the Socialist Realist canon was the Soviet engineer. For instance, Bright Path, the iconic 1940 film produced under the close supervision of Joseph Stalin himself, tells a story of an illiterate, but hard-working girl who breaks labor records and earns the Stalin Prize, all in the effort to make herself worthy of a dashing young engineer who pays attention to her. The movie’s working title, eventually nixed by Stalin, was Cinderella. That makes an engineer a Soviet prince.
For a brief moment engineering was prestigious—that is before Russians figured out that the occupation offers little opportunity for graft. In a country where an ability to draw a second income was essential, the prestige waned quickly. However, mathematics continued to be valued by the highly educated free-thinkers for its own sake.
The woke have an agenda distinctly different from that of the Soviet Communists. They found themselves in control of the institutions of the most prosperous society that ever existed in the face of the Earth. They are not interested in cultivating a generation of thinkers who can move our society forward when they can simply live off of the resources accumulated by generations of the dreaded “white supremacists.”
Worst of all, they are depriving our children of the ability to transcend ideology and to think freely even when the powers that be demand conformity. Like good totalitarians that they are, the woke are destroying every space where men can think independently.
Woke bureaucrats are no Fields Medal winners. They are not going to revolutionize mathematics. They will stupidly, intentionally destroy it, and with it, they will destroy our children.DONATE
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