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Professor proposes 'living mathematx' which acknowledges that trees are sentient

Just this weekend, this editor looked at a published paper presented at the 2023 Joint Mathematics Meetings conference called, “Undergraduate Mathematics Education as a White, Cisheteropatriarchal Space and Opportunities for Structural Disruption to Advance Queer of Color Justice.” We’ve been trying to remove “whiteness” from mathematics. Asking students in math class to “show their work” is “white supremacy.” Why? Because it requires students to worship the written word as well as exhibit paternalism, both of which are building blocks of white supremacy culture as well. Math class is sick with white supremacist thinking.

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Just as with womxn and Latinx, you knew it was only a matter of time until someone came up with mathematx, right? Well, here it is.

Don’t squint; we’ll repeat that below. Rochelle Gutiérrez from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign gives this as the abstract to her paper:

This paper offers specific implications for teaching and learning and brings into conversation ideas from ethnomathematics (including Western mathematics), postcolonial theory, aesthetics, biology, and Indigenous knowledge in order to propose a new vision for practicing mathematics, what I call mathematx. I build upon the work of sustainability in mathematics education and suggest we need to think not only about more ethical ways of applying mathematics in teaching and learning but question the very nature of mathematics, who does it, and how we are affected by that practice.

So what’s this about living rocks? Gutiérrez suggests we need to break up the human/non-human binary just as queer theory has eliminated the gender binary:

Indigenous knowledges recognize that we are part of a system of intelligent and sentient beings, also referred to as persons, with interconnected spirits, including rocks and bodies of water. Plants, for example, have lived on this planet for millions of years before humans. In that sense, plants are our older brothers/sisters and have developed ways of efficiently using space, relating with other living beings, and sustaining life not just for themselves but for others, often with few resources at any given moment. They have been able to withstand long droughts, communicate about impending dangers, and collaborate in order to protect others in the community in ways that appear to be selfless acts. They have much to teach us; and we may have something to teach them. Breaking with a human/non-human binary is consistent with queer theory, which recognizes the violence that is justified when some are viewed to be more human than others (Chen 2012).

Our choice to destroy the planet to serve our immediate/capitalistic/technology needs is a form of settler colonialism that perpetuates violence. That is, because a Western worldview does not consider plants, animals, and rocks as living beings of equal value with the same rights to this universe as humans, the result is that plants, animals and rocks suffer the same treatment as Indigenous peoples have endured throughout time.

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If you have the time, you really ought to read the whole thing; this is university research in 2023.

Yep … away from colonialist and capitalist white mathematics instruction.

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“She literally sucks don’t take this class.”

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It’s not. A university employs this person to teach math education to students who pay good money for it.

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