‘De-Colonizing Math’… to Dumb It Down

Image result for images of bridge falling down

Alta wrote in today to remind us that public education in her country of South Africa is given to “de-colonising maths.”  In order to “transform society,” y’see–although I don’t know who asked for it to be transformed. Well, they’re doing it here, too. After all, college can’t finish its job on the students’ brains unless they’ve first been pretty well worked over by the public schools. First mash it, then shape it.

To this end, we have PC puke like “culturally relevant math lessons” devised by condescending white liberals (https://blog.learningbird.com/decolonizing-math-creating-culturally-relevant-math-lessons/)… and if I follow this sentence to its logical conclusion, I’ll get in trouble. Feel free to fill in the blanks.

But you see, Ms. Liberal $Educator explains, mathematics has to be “de-colonized”–Lord, give me strength–because “Many of the elements of western math instruction don’t necessarily aligned with the principles of indigenous learning,” whatever the devil that is. But isn’t it sweet of her to stoop down to the “indigenous” level, because those poor folks just aren’t able to learn white man’s math?

Math is about bridges not falling down after you build them, and buildings going up straight instead of crooked so that they don’t fall down, either, and not running out of food or other necessities because you don’t know how to do a budget. Math is about things being done right.

That’s what I didn’t like about math, when I was a punk kid. There was always only one right answer, and I couldn’t schmooze my way past it. Oddly enough, that’s what I’ve come to love about math: right answers are hard to come by in this world, outside of the Bible.

6 comments on “‘De-Colonizing Math’… to Dumb It Down

  1. What I find astounding about all of this is that no one seems to understand that they are insulting the very people they claim to be wanting to help.

    During the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties, black Americans wanted access to equal opportunity and to be treated as equals. No problem there, that’s how it should be. But some of the measures proposed of late strike me as condescending. What good does it do to make classes ever easier so that the pass rates are high? In some subjects, especially STEM areas, the material is not easy and not everyone can master these subjects. It’s not a matter of race, it’s because the subjects are difficult for persons of any background. Gutting the curriculum doesn’t improve education, it just makes the degrees less meaningful.

  2. I suppose I could expect this in a backwards country like Africa where slavery is still practiced in some parts, and albino people are hunted down like animals because it’s believed their bones bring good luck. What is more distressing to me is a college “professor” at the University of Illinois who basically is saying the same thing. We are literally turning into Africa!

    The West has been vilified for colonialism, but it also brought a lot of good things to the less civilized world. It brought medicine, science, built infrastructure. It ended barbaric practices like widow burning in India, and feet binding in China. It brought law and order. In fact, India still uses the law system that was introduced to them by the British.

  3. When I substitute teach in elementary school and the students are doing math, I cringe. I cannot figure out how they teach division – entirely different from the way I learned, and much more awkward. I usually ignore the Lesson Plan and just test them on the multiplication table through 12, which most of them have not mastered. But here’s the catch – I make it fun, and the kids have a blast. My motto is, “If you are not laughing, you are not learning, because learning is a very enjoyable experience.”

    1. I used to teach high school kids that math was of all their subjects the most romantic, because in math there’s always a right answer.

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