Math “White Cisheteropatriarchy” Word Salad By Vanderbilt Prof Is What Gets Rewarded In Academia
My appearance on the Newell Normand radio show to talk about the state of academia and a Vanderbilt U Professor’s lecture: “we are creating systems which seek to punish high achievement and seek to denigrate high achievement in racial and other terms that is extremely damaging to our country.”
On January 27, 2023, I appeared on the Newell Normand Show on WWL AM 870 in Louisiana.
The topic was a story we previously wrote about a lecture by Prof. Luis Antonio Leyva, Vanderbilt University-Peabody College of Education & Human Development, Vanderbilt Prof Calls College Math a ‘White, Cisheteropatriarchal Space’. Prof. Leyva’s lecture also was the subject of my appearance on Chicago’s Morning Answer, A “mania has taken over academia where every issue, including math, revolves around race and the patriarchy”.
Here is the Abstract of the lecture, Undergraduate Mathematics Education as a White, Cisheteropatriarchal Space and Opportunities for Structural Disruption to Advance Queer of Color Justice. I dare you to actually read the entire thing:
This lecture consists of two parts. For the first half of the lecture, I present findings from my research about the educational experiences of 39 undergraduate queer and trans* (QT) students of color pursuing STEM majors across historically white and minority-serving universities in the United States. Findings depict how Black, Latin*, and Asian QT students’ narratives of experience reflect forms of intersectionality, or instances of oppression and resistance at intersecting systems of white supremacy and cisheteropatriarchy (or white cisheteropatriarchy). I use my analytical framework, “STEM Education as a White, Cisheteropatriarchal Space” (Leyva et al., 2022, American Educational Research Journal), to capture how intersectional oppression among QT students of color unfolds across three interconnected levels of influence in undergraduate STEM: ideological, institutional, and relational. In addition, I highlight findings that illustrate structural disruptions, defined as educational structures and practices that resist intersectional oppression in undergraduate STEM. Findings also address coping strategies among QT students of color navigating white cisheteropatriarchy in STEM for protecting their academic success and intersectional identities. During the second half of the lecture, I apply my framework and research findings to argue how undergraduate mathematics education operates as a white, cisheteropatriarchal space that limits learning opportunities affirming of queer of color identities and experiences. I conclude by re-imagining undergraduate mathematics education with structural disruptions that advance justice for learners marginalized across intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. This re-imagining accounts for ideological, institutional, and relational forms of disruption that interrogate dominant forms of knowledge production as well as expand access to learning opportunities and departmental support that affirm queer of color identities.
What a woke word salad. That word salad and more was the subject of my almost 20 minute interview (opens in new window)
PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT (AUTO-TRANSCRIBED, MAY CONTAIN TRANSCRIPTION ERRORS)
Newell Normand (01:51): So, I mean, math has been called racist. It’s been called all kinds of different things. How did we get to this point?
WAJ (02:01): Well, as you indicated, math is hard. Okay, <laugh>, I struggled. I barely got through high school trigonometry, and I said I’ve had enough. The only thing I thought at the time was maybe I’m not smart enough to do advanced math. I can do other things. I didn’t think I was a victim. Okay, <laugh>, because in this 1970s, not everybody was a victim. Now everybody’s a victim. So if you’re bad at math, it’s not your fault. It’s society that has wronged you. The structure has wronged you. And that’s really what’s taken over. It’s a victim mentality that permeates higher education, increasingly K through 12, but higher education and everything has to be put in a context. There’s always a race connection. There’s always a gender and sex connection. There’s always a capitalist connection. There’s always something other than the fact that you just are not good at math. And that’s what’s happening. That’s what permeates. It’s really hard to overstate for your listeners how absurd it has become throughout higher education.
… there’s so many areas of academia that have turned into absurd word salads…. I do think it has to do with what’s commonly called woke ideology …. I read the abstract of his lecture. It’s literally word salad. It’s repeating the same things over and over again. It’s the sort of nonsense you see throughout academia, particularly in the humanities. What makes this so interesting is that it’s actually in math. This is the sort of nonsense you expect to see in the humanities.
Well, I read an article a while back about an organization called Teaching Works, and, I think the Gates Foundation provides a lot of the funding for it. And the founder said that math is a harbor for whiteness and the very nature of the knowledge and who produced it and what is counted as mathematics is itself dominated by whiteness and racism. But if you go back through history as it relates to math, it never really was dominated by whiteness, was it?
Well, I’m not a historian of math, but I think there were other civilizations, so-called non-white, non-European civilizations, which were quite advanced in mathematical concepts…. So, no, math is not a white thing, it’s just math. And the fact that it’s now being portrayed that way is One, historically wrong. Two, it’s presently wrong because everybody on a math test is treated equally. They’re dealing with the same playing field. And, it’s also very insulting. It’s suggesting that if you are not white, you can’t be doing math. And we know that that’s not true also. So, at every level, this attempt to portray mathematics as a white thing is just wrong.
NN (05:57): So, you know, I’ve read, and I’m sure you have too, that identifying incorrect answers as being wrong is demeaning to students. And therefore, this quest for being right is a white dominated aspect of life as well.
Yeah, you see that all the time. You see that sort of thing in trainings. You see that anecdotally in videos that are released or somebody secretly records something. You see that everywhere and again, what message is that sending to non-white children that if you’re punctual, if you turn in your work on time, if you are correct in your mathematics and you’re able to show your proof, and you’re able to do all these things that make you successful in life and in this society, and then they tell them, but if you’re doing that, that’s a sign of whiteness. What message is that sending? There’s something has gone so fundamentally wrong with our education system and teachers and book publishers and foundations who view education as a method of activism of social activism. And that’s how you get into these ridiculous, insulting concepts, which are demeaning to people they pretend to be helping.
NN (09:16):You know, in my educational life, the classes that I enjoyed the most was the Socratic method of teaching Challenging thought. That’s dead. Right?
Well, I attended law school in the early 1980s. The Socratic method was how the classes were taught. The professor pressing you, calling on you, you didn’t know you were going to be called on. So you had to be ready for every class because you didn’t know, is this the day I’m going to get called on and challenge you and probe you? And so that’s an uncomfortable sort of thing, but it was really good as a learning methodology because One, it required you to be ready. You had to be ready at every moment. But Two, I think it was teaching people to get to an answer on their own, teaching people how to self-critically examine what they’re saying. Now I think the Socratic method, even in law schools where it really started, is probably out the window in most places. And instead, because the concept is that you want people to be comfortable, you want them to feel safe in the classroom, intellectually safe in the classroom, you don’t want to stress them, you don’t want to embarrass them. But, you know, real life is a series of stresses and embarrassments and being prepared. So I think that the old Socratic method was great. Frankly, it was a lot more work for the professor, much easier to just get up there and lecture for an hour than to actually interrogate students.
So when I read this word salad as you referred to it, and I think appropriately so, I never am able to pull out what it is that they’re actually the conclusion of what, what it is that they’re saying and, and how that translates into what they would change relative to the course of instruction of math.
It’s funny you say that because that’s what I thought when I read it. Like it’s completely circular. He even cites to himself as authority for some of his points. And it never really tells you, at least what’s online here, it never really tells you how is this going to improve student’s ability to learn math. Maybe that’s not the purpose of it. Maybe the purpose of it is to tear down various structures in the university system and in society. And I suspect that really is what the purpose is because that’s what gets rewarded in academia. But there’s nothing in here…. it literally makes no sense. It’s circular, it’s just a bunch of words thrown together, but this is what gets rewarded in academia….
And how do we connect as to, you know, the perpetuation of STEM education that we’ve really fallen behind when we compare ourselves to other industrialized countries as it relates to STEM that we think we’re gonna end up in a better place.
Nobody who looks at this thinks this is actually good for our country. I always try to emphasize, because I speak to a lot of groups, I speak to a lot of legislators, and I say, you know, this is actually, this stuff is, it’s funny at one level and when we can sit here and we can kind of laugh at how stupid it is. But when you think that we are raising generations who don’t know how to do math, who think that there’s something wrong with showing your proof in math, and this is perpetuated throughout the other STEM subjects. We are really damaging ourselves as the nation. If you wanted to, if you had a long-term generational view to undermine the United States, how would you do it any differently than they’re doing it now? You would create a nation of students who can’t read, write, or do arithmetic. We’re not there yet. There are many bright students and there are many students who perform, but we are creating systems which seek to punish high achievement and seek to denigrate high achievement in racial and other terms that is extremely damaging to our country. So this is not just about some kooky professor at Vanderbilt who writes the word salad. This is really a symptom of a more fundamental problem.
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to the full extent allowed by law.
I can’t wait to see the mathematical equivalent of Ebonics.
2 + 2 = muthah…..
How is this absurdity getting so out of hand in a discipline like math? The concept is so blatantly ridiculous, compared to when this BS shows up elsewhere. For example, the 1619 project is abhorrent. But I understand the power of revisionist history if it can sink it’s claws in the culture.
2+2 = slavery?
Hello, is this thing on?
When I first heard math is racist!!11!, it floored me that math people didn’t shoot this down immediately. This is low-hanging fruit material. Destroy it here and use that momentum to take it down where it’s going to be a little harder to do (but doable.)
Hilbert spaces are safe spaces.
early in my career I worked with someone who was WICKED good at math. I mean scary. I lost track of him when he went to work for a company which was later bought by nvidia.
My favorite line from him was: “People who know math, take money from people who don’t know math.”
There is no way around that equation.
he was a white male…. suckers.
“People who know math, take money from people who don’t know math.”
That is why Math is (obviously) racist.
People who know math devise those ghetto-trap “One Year Same as Cash!” contracts with the interest back-charges virtually no impulse buyer ever spots.
I see we’ve found the new, improved replacement for “latinx.” Does anyone know how to pronounce it?
It’s a glottal click. Very popular in Africa, where the Latin*s come from.
The academic word salad thing has been going on for decades. I was an Econ major in 1979, I had to read assigned articles for one of my classes. I remember slogging thru one of these until I came to the phrase “exogenously given unaugmentable human variables (natural talent)”. Yes, the author actually included the English translation of “natural talent” right in the text. So if he meant natural talent, why include all the $64 words? Is that what it takes to get anywhere in academia. But at least it wasn’t woke word salad. My wife and I started a 529 account for our grandson when he was born, but haven’t contributed to it recently. I hope he grows up to be an electrician or plumber. We don’t want him ruined by academia.
My father had two sons. He tried his best to have one electrician and one plumber. He got a CPA and a science teacher. The “everybody HAS to go to college” in the 90s was too strong.
Well, CPA is a “skilled trade” with entrepreneur potential, nothing wrong with that.
Science teacher is also skilled, but the career environment rivals Waitstaff.
The essence of Robert Heinlein’s “Crazy Years:
“Craziness can be measured by maladaptive behavior. The behavior the society uses to solve one kind of problem, when applied to an incorrect category, disorients it.
“When this happens the whole society, even if some members are aware of the disorientation, cannot reach the correct conclusion, or react in a fashion that preserves society from harm.
“As if society were a dolphin that called itself a fish: when it suffered the sensation of drowning, it would dive. But a dolphin is a mammal, a member of a different category of being. When dolphins are low on air, they surface, rather than dive. Putting yourself in the wrong category leads to the wrong behavior.”
>> “Putting yourself in the wrong category leads to the wrong behavior.” << So all of those stabbings are just people who were denied the oportunity to become surgeons.
Regardless of “fault” for a person’s situation, society has to default to personal responsibility or it can’t be held together.
I’m saving this Heinlein bit to Evernote
Perhaps the students don’t feel affirmed b/c that’s the role of their family, spiritual advisor or therapist. No one owes anyone understanding. We owe each other only basic civility and basic tolerance to the extent we also offer both to others. No one student is more or less important than any other student. Allowing some of them to demand differential treatment is folly. Tell them to STFU, that they are not special and to go withdraw from the class, the major or the University if they are uncomfortable.
There’s a glimmer of hope in that this word vomit is coming from a math ed prof and not a straight (no pun intended) up math prof. Math education is to (actual) mathematics as TV dinners are to haute cuisine – there is a superficial relation but for all intents and purposes they live and breathe in separate worlds.
Having said that, though, the math department is pretty much like any other department on campus: leftists are disproportionately represented. Even so, most of them (presently, at any rate, until the older generation die off) are more interested in elegant proofs of obscure theorems than they are in woke drivel.
What are the obscure theorems? I am aware of Hilbert’s list. What are the ones Hilbert missed?
I think Hilbert died before Gödel. I’m not sure.
One has to be very something to allow that obscure theorems are drivel. To the uninitiated, all theorems are obscure.
Everyone knows the modern example that 3+2=1. Clock.
I didn’t know that one.
I knew 90 > 120. Microwave.
“Obscure” as far as non- mathematicians are concerned. Theorems are, as one of my math profs used to say about mathematicians, “well-known to those who know them well.”
Joe Q. Public can barely recognize the Pythagorean Theorem, so naturally all other theorems, like the fundamental theorem of algebra or Euclid’s theorem, would be considered “obscure.”
Didn’t think I’d have to spell this out.
The general public may be unaware of the existence of those theorems, but the theorems are no more obscure any more tthan the fundamental accounting equation is obscure, which itself is likely not known to the general public.
I cannot imagine any world class mathematician in any age attempting to write proofs in any fashion except the most elegant they can produce.
First, you prove your theorem.
Once you have a working proof, then you can streamline it, make it pretty, ask yourself if there’s a “better” way to solve it, and use that in the final write-up of the solution. Of course no one’s going to publish scratch paper work. At the same time, though, it’s foolish to think that no one could ever come up with a more polished proof. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and someone else could wind up making connections that escape you.
I may be wrong, but most claims we name “ theorems” for example, the theorem by Pythagoras, are not theorems in the sense of hypotheses.
The right triangle thing has proofs beyond 500 in number. I understand Einstein gave an independent proof when he was 14.
You are right, of course. About the general public’s lack of interest in what things are known and accessible, and even what things are known and accessible only to a very few stalwarts.
There, hanging in the body of our Constitution were the 5th and 2nd articles, and the Fed. Judge nominee had not a scintilla.
Oh, thanks for the exchange.
I have never, in my whole career, met a high school math teacher than do differential equations. Sophomore math.
All education research seems to read like this gibberish.
My wife is a retired HS math teacher in NY City public schools with a Masters from Courant NYU. She certainly could “do” differential equations. She tells me that she also taught it as part of the Calculus course, the depth depending on the level of the class, which ranged up to AP Calculus.
That’s great. I think you will find, should you look into it, that there are a lot of retired calc teachers and very very few younger ones. The most advanced math I have seen in HS is the AP calculus class and it is just the first in the calc series.
I have met one such teacher in my life and it was my AP calc teacher. I meet/know a lot of teachers. Admittedly, I am not in a large city and I am not in one of the specialty schools that must be tested into.
Then you haven’t been to high school.
There’s a straightforward solution.
Realizing that the vast majority of spree shooters do it primarily for the fame and notoriety, the more intelligent news outlets have signed onto the Some Asshole Initiative.
This short and simple guide explains what the Some Asshole Initiative is, how and why it works, and how to apply it.
But in fact, the Initiative’s principles can be applied in any case where people commit destructive acts simply for the notoriety factor. For example, applying them to one of the ledes above produces:
Some Asshole Calls College Math a ‘White, Cisheteropatriarchal Space’.
And voila — the bulk of the damage has been averted.
Call me crazy, but I think most spree shooters do it because they’ve been identified as unstable and groomed by a 3 letter agency.
Some for sure, but not all… because Democrats are very strict about child labor laws.
Louie “has taught multiple courses to undergraduate and graduate students at Rutgers University including “Modern High School Mathematics,” “Teaching Mathematics in the Elementary School” and “Individual and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom.”
The guy is appropriating the mathematician designation. If he were a mathematician, he’d have posted his research online. I couldn’t find anything he’s published. Silence. The Riemann Hypothesis is safe from his solving,
And regardless of color, all quarks, are white.
Murray Gell-Mann’s ghost.
Around 47 “woke” words/phrases in that 1st run on abstract paragraph. A bunch of phooey to say a bunch of nothing.
My former language arts teachers would tear it apart.
Enough with tolerance. We need to stand up like men and engage in hate speech. These spiteful mutants and other assorted freaks, sex perverts, uglies and losers have everyone on the defensive. Why is it that only they are allowed to hate? They hate racists and devout Christians. Well, I hate them. Hate is a natural emotion and useful when justified. There would be no love, without its opposite, HATE. Don’t fear hate. Love it. It is time to fight.
Which is a problem why? Do admirable qualities somehow become deplorable if the wrong person displays them?
Of course they do.
What are “phone calls to Ukraine,” Alex.
Look up “TThe Sokal Hoax.” Sokal put out as much word salad to get published as a hoax, and it worked.
Who’s the folks a few years back, doing it again? They got run out off academia by offended folks weaponizing the tools put in place to stop psychology researchers from doing actual harm.
Peter Bognossian is one of them but he has some pretty good youtube demonstrations online showing young people the basics of how to consider a spectrum of opinions. I think few of the participants take his point, though. Most of those counter to the narrative of the prevailing woke police are just a bit frightened to be there on camera.
Yeah, him, thanks.
I’ve also been looking for some time for high-traction illuminations of “bounded rationality”, Bayesian Inference, and what I’ll call “Popper Science.” Those four together Bognossian’s take plus the others, make a pretty good intelllactual toolkit for better grokking the world.
You also have to show up, engage, observe, and accept what you find, but that’s from the process and experience PoV.
“Undergraduate Mathematics Education as a White, Cisheteropatriarchal Space and Opportunities for Structural Disruption to Advance Queer of Color Justice.”
Funny how so many Asian countries disagree with this and their students score at the top in international competitions and comparisons.
Only because the judges are
bleachedbiased to the traditional white norms..