"We don’t want to hinder the next great mathematical mind by demanding the subject include philosophy that is based in Marxism." (Photo: Composite)

You may have heard about the push to include ideas of social justice in math. The idea is that math is unjust and causes inequity and oppression. Proponents of social justice desire to completely reframe all of mathematics instruction so that it is more relevant to the student and addresses inequity and oppression. Further, these proponents want teachers to be accountable to ensure these issues are continually infused into and focused on in curricula of all grade levels.

There are so many problems with this movement it is difficult to decide where to begin to address them. First, I believe that math is the opposite of what the SJWs describe. I am of the opinion that math is not an oppressor but is an opportunity maker. I believe that math is one of those subject areas that can help any individual improve his or her life, or achieve something significant, regardless of background. There are so many examples we have–from Katherine Johnson to Jaime Escalante to Karen Uhlenbeck in recent times and countless more in years gone by.

Second, math is a unique subject in that it lends itself readily to objective thinking. It takes us out of ourselves because the abstract ideas of math and their truth values exist apart from our opinions and feelings. It represents a great reminder that our emotions cannot dictate what is true, right, and good. Could it be that the attempt to insert emotionally-charged topics into the study of math is really an attempt to remove one of the last bastions of rational and logical thought?

Third, the continual need to make absolutely everything in math relevant to the student is doing them a great injustice. Students need to know that everything is NOT about them and/or how they feel, but that there is something greater than all of us. That an ideal of truth and beauty exists and it is worth striving toward. The whole intent should be to fling wide the doors of possibilities for students for what could be – for what they could be, not to train up a bunch of narcissists. And of course, math should be applicable – we use some form of it every day in regular life. But it should also be used to inspire—to show what a powerful tool it can be to change, for the better, the life of an individual and those around them. We don’t want to hinder the next great mathematical mind by demanding the subject include philosophy that is based in Marxism. Imagine if SJWs had existed in the time of Newton. They would have found a reason to be outraged at him and protest the oppression gravity causes!  Thankfully, they weren’t, and other great minds like Einstein and today’s scientists have been able to build upon Newton’s theories and we have all greatly benefited.

Let’s not ruin the very subject that can be used to achieve, create, or gain new understanding that could somehow improve the lives of countless people and lift them up. For truth and goodness’ sake let’s not corrupt math with social justice.


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