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Tried to Tell My Math Teacher

I really didn’t take mathematics in school. I took ‘Rithmatic. Remember the old school and the Three R’s: reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic? Forget spelling!

I was reading an article the other day about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and their bankrolling of a group of activists who feel that math is racist. You read that right. Math is racist. They feel that ‘right’ answers, like 2+2=4, is just another example of “white supremacy.”

I’m such an old school fogey that I had not thought of right answers in ‘rithmatic being wrong or racist. I took it for granted that 2+2=4, no matter what color your skin might be. Silly me! Come to think of it, I went to school at the wrong time. If I was going to school today, under these geniuses supported by the Gates Foundation, I would have made all 100’s on my tests because, after all, to say I got an answer wrong would hurt my feelings.

They have even written a toolkit, as they call it, A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction. The set of booklets is a doozy and has some interesting, to say the least, ideas.

For instance, one of the booklets, seeks to rid the classroom of racist mathematics by eliminating “wrong” answers. To point to an answer like 2+2=5 as wrong “reinforces the ideas of perfection and paternalism.” Sounds complicated, doesn’t it, but I can “splain” it.

Perfectionism leads to the idea that students shouldn’t make mistakes. Pointing out the wrong answer would belittle the student and lead the student to think they had to be perfect in their life and their math. In other words, any answer is okay and everybody gets a trophy.

Paternalism only reinforces the authority of the teacher and that the teacher is always right. I tried arguing that when I was in the 8th grade, but Mr. Henry Jones would have none of my argument, sent me to the dreaded office where Mr. Glenn Scruggs gave me five licks! When I returned to the classroom, I understood that Mr. Jones was always going to be right!

In another booklet from the toolkit, there is the argument that the best way to dismantle the white supremacy of the old school classroom is to eliminate order in the class. There’ll be no raising hands and waiting to be called on before speaking. That would, again, reinforce the big, bad authority of the teacher and “break the process of thinking, learning, and communicating.”
If you’re waiting for me to “splain” this, I can’t. These people are too smart and far ahead of me.
Instead of order in the classroom, this team of geniuses recommends that a better way to teach math is with “storytelling circles, incorporating dance, music, song, call and response and other cultural ways of communicating.”

Too bad I had not heard of this before so that I could have suggested to Mr. Jones that we sing our way through this Algebra II lesson. Come to think again, I wouldn’t want another visit to the office.

One more interesting point of these booklets. According to the educators who are being supported by the Gates Foundation, before the class begins, the teacher is to self-examine himself or herself and come to grips with “who they really are.”

They are to admit that they are biased against some students and favor others. After this self-evaluation, then, and only then, can they enter the classroom as a socially just teacher worthy of instructing hooligans like me in the important topic of mathematics.

I still prefer ‘rithmatic to mathematics and I have one question. How did Bill Gates ever create Microsoft if he thinks 2+2=5?