The war against 'discriminatory' knowledge and competence embraced by higher education

You’ve heard of “Latinx,” which is used to address “a person of Latin American origin or descent” in a “gender-neutral or nonbinary” way. Prepare to be introduced to the term “Mathematx,” which refers to a way to “reconceptualize” mathematics.

Rochelle Gutiérrez, a professor of mathematics and Latino/a studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be leading a discussion at Minnesota’s Carleton College this October as part of the school’s Convocation Series.

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The weekly meetings are described on a school website as

“… a shared campus experience that brings students, faculty, and staff together for one hour for a lecture or presentation from specialists in a variety of fields. The goal of the convocation series is to stimulate thought and conversation on a wide range of subjects.”

            The website’s characterization of Gutiérrez’ presentation reads as follows:

“Rochelle Gutiérrez is a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her scholarship focuses on equity issues in mathematics education, paying particular attention to how race, class, and language affect teaching and learning. Gutiérrez demonstrates how mathematics perpetuates white privilege, and how evaluations of math skills can perpetuate discrimination against minorities. The way our economy places a premium on mathematics skills also gives a form of unearned privilege for math professors, who are disproportionately white. The solution, Gutiérrez contends, goes beyond closing the achievement gap or recruiting more diverse students into the mathematical sciences. Mathematics teachers need to be prepared with much more than just content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, or knowledge of diverse students if they are going to be successful. They must become more aware of the politics that mathematics brings to society. Gutiérrez’ approach is to ‘rehumanize’ mathematics.”

That’s exactly what we need in today’s world, politicized math. Thankfully, it is hard to politicize facts. As John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” The more one tries to politicize facts, the more desperate, unstable and ridiculous one looks. (See also, Democratic Party 2020 presidential candidates).

Professor Gutiérrez spoke at the Mathematics Education and Society 10th  International Conference in India earlier this year. Her talk was titled, “Mathematx: Towards a Way of Being.” She described that talk thusly:

“The relationship between humans, mathematics, and the planet has been one steeped too long in domination and destruction [….] Drawing upon Indigenous worldviews to reconceptualize what mathematics is and how it is practiced, I argue for a movement against objects, truths, and knowledge towards a way of being in the world that is guided by first principles–mathematx.”

It is obvious Gutiérrez believes math should be just another tool to be used in the social justice war on all things exceptional. Her attempt to paint the purely rational as somehow unethical is sadly illustrative of modern-day progressives. “Reconceptualizing” mathematics in a “nonbinary” way is patently absurd. “Binary” is a mathematical term. “Skills can perpetuate discrimination?” That’s entirely the point. Discriminating the skilled from the unskilled in any given discipline makes all of us richer, all of our lives better and safer. Who wants an accountant who’s unskilled at math? Who wants a financial planner, bridge-builder or economist who is a disciple of professor Gutiérrez? Who really cares if their surgeon is knowledgeable or skilled as long as he or she isn’t white and has been “rehumanized?”

Professor Gutiérrez argues “for a movement against objects, truths, and knowledge.” She objects to objects? Is she against buildings, trees, bridges, pencils? The movement against “truths, and knowledge” has been gaining momentum for years now on college campuses across the country. After all, what does truth have to do with a “way of being in the world?” And what does knowledge have to do with a college education?

Gutiérrez’ Carleton Convocation Series presentation is free and open to the public, so if you are in the vicinity of Northfield, Minnesota, this coming October 11th, you may want to attend and learn about “the politics that mathematics brings to society.” (Professor Gutiérrez is, of course, utterly apolitical and unbiased). You may even find yourself being “rehumanized.”

Thomas Lifson adds:

Why doesn’t Professor Gutiérrez worry about “Asian privilege” when it comes to math?  It’s not merely a stereotype that Asian-Americans on average outpace European-Americans on SAT math tests and in college and graduate programs requiring math. Check out the membership of the championship US team at the 60th International Mathematical Olympiad for high school students.


Also note that our champs tied for first place with China.