We previously discussed the view of University of Rhode Island and Director of Graduate Studies of History Erik Loomis that “Science, statistics, and technology are all inherently racist.” Others have agreed with that view, including denouncing math as racist or a “tool of whiteness.” Now, as part of its “decolonization” efforts, Durham University is calling on professors in the math department to ask themselves if they’re citing work from “mostly white or male” mathematicians.
According to the Telegraph and The College Fix a guide instructs faculty that “decolonising the mathematical curriculum means considering the cultural origins of the mathematical concepts, focusses, and notation we most commonly use.” It adds:
“[T]he question of whether we have allowed Western mathematicians to dominate in our discipline is no less relevant than whether we have allowed western authors to dominate the field of literature. It may even be more important, if only because mathematics is rather more central to the advancement of science than is literature.”
Some professors have objected to being asked to consider the race or gender of mathematicians rather than their underlying theories or formulas.Jonathan Turley, ““Decolonising Math”: Durham University Asks Professors to Consider the Race of Mathematicians Before Relying on their Work” at JonathanTurley.org (April 11, 2022)
Maybe it comes down to how much ideas actually matter, as opposed to politics some people can force other people to pay for.
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Yes, there really is a war on math in our schools. Pundits differ as to the causes but here are some facts parents should know.
Further dispatches from the war on math. Discussions of social policy where math is relevant can be useful. But a student who does not understand how an equation works will fail at both math AND social policy. Increasingly, the United States depends on foreign talent in math and science. It seems an odd time for a nation to be sponsoring a war on math.