Canada’s Ontario province has injected anti-racist activism into its Grade 9 math curriculum, decrying the science as having been used to “normalize racism” and demanding that lessons “challenge systems of power and privilege.”
lack and LGBTQ students, among others, have experienced “systemic barriers” to accessing high-level math instruction such as racism and implicit bias, according to the new curriculum. Teachers are expected not only to identify and remove such barriers but also to impart all students with the skills to recognize how math can be used to “uncover, explore, analyze and promote actions to address social and environmental issues, such as inequity and discrimination.”
The curriculum, which is posted on the provincial government’s website, calls for challenging “Eurocentric” ideas about learning math and creating an “anti-racist and anti-discriminatory environment.” It argues against math being an objective discipline:
Mathematics has been used to normalize racism and marginalization of non-Eurocentric mathematical knowledges, and a decolonial, anti-racist approach to mathematics education makes visible its historical roots and social constructions.
Teachers are challenged to encourage different ways of learning, such as infusing “Indigenous knowledges” into their lessons, to help students develop “healthy and strong identities” as math learners. The program, which is based on a framework called Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy (CRRP), also will address “issues of power and social justice in mathematics education.”
Toronto Sun columnist Brian Lilley panned the curriculum, saying, “So apparently math is racist and Eurocentric and subjective. Really?” He added that calling math Eurocentric is false, given its roots in such places as the Arabian Peninsula and China, and said the province has allowed activists to “insert their lefty politics into the classroom.”
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