Monday, November 27, 2017

Math As White Privilege…The Real Outrage

By Professor Doom

     It seems every week we learn another thing is racist, from milk, to showing up on time, or…whatever.

      The latest assertion is that mathematics, the ultimate measure of every civilization, does, in fact, have a racist component to it. As always I can’t make this stuff up:

     There’s been plenty of outrage over this idiocy, quite justified of course, but the true outrage has been missed by the smokescreen of stupidity. First, let me present her ludicrous claims by quoting from the above:

A University of Illinois math professor believes that algebra and geometry perpetuate “white privilege” because Greek terms give Caucasians unearned credit for the subject.

--emphasis added, as this needs clarification, being the real outrage here.

    Most “college” math is basically algebra. The word “algebra,” incidentally, comes from Arabic (“al-jabr”), since the notation we use is based around the notation used in that part of the world centuries ago.

     I can’t help but wonder what Greek terms she’s referencing here; the English language has stolen so many words from so many languages that I’m extremely hard pressed to figure which words she says are racist. In any event, Greece is considered the cradle of European (i.e., Western) culture. What of it?

      I just can’t wrap my mind around the concept here. Every culture discovered many of the same basic mathematical concepts. Pi, for example, has a Greek name, but pretty much every culture which advanced far enough to put one rock on top of another, from China to the Mayans, realized it was an important concept, even if we in the west give it a “Greek” name.

     In my decades of mathematical training, I honestly can’t recall anyone claiming pi was a Caucasian invention.

“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness,” she argues with complete sincerity, according to Campus Reform. “Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White.”

      What the actual heck? Does the professor not know about China? Honest, they teach mathematics there, too…it isn’t any more a “White” thing than physics, computers, or sanitation (things which also exist in China, I assure the gentle reader).

She concludes her argument with the claim that all knowledge is “relational,” or is, in other words, relative. “Things cannot be known objectively; they must be known subjectively.”

      Again, what the actual heck? In terms of the real world, math is pretty relevant, honest, and even if it was “relative” it seems to work reliably enough that training our kids in its use is a good idea.

Stay on the good side of the Office of Student Retention and Appeasement. Practice saying "when the student fails, it means the teacher has failed," "there are no wrong answers, just different ways of knowing,"

--from advice to new faculty…sounds much like what this person is saying, no?

       If she honestly believed this garbage she’s spewing, she should quit her job. I mean, if all knowledge is relative, if nothing has any value, then she should believe teaching is pointless, and should quit.

     She hasn’t quit, so she’s obviously being intellectually dishonest, and should be dismissed outright…which is what everyone (outside of administrators) who’s heard her “arguments” has done.

     I really want to hammer down how stupid her assertion is: she’s stating objectively that there’s no objectivity. If she’s correct, then she’s wrong. Or, she’s wrong in the first place. Since she’s wrong either way, her claim is irrelevant.

     How can a professor of mathematics make such a blatant logical error?

     Now we come to the real issue here. Let me quote another site:

A math education professor at the University of Illinois says the ability to solve geometry and algebra problems and teaching such subjects perpetuates so-called white privilege.

--emphasis added, clarifying one of the big problems in higher education today.

     And here, gentle reader, is the real issue. She’s not a math professor, she’s an Education professor. There is, in fact, a huge world of difference.

     When I was at a fake community college, and even at a questionable state university, I noticed that the “mathematics” positions were being taken over by Education positions.

      “They’re much better teachers” said admin. Wanting to be a better teacher, I sat in on the classes of Math Education professors, and noticed an important detail: they didn’t know anything about mathematics. A quick look at the graduate school curriculum for Math Education reveals the reason why this is so: they don’t learn any math in Math Education graduate school.

      The gentle reader should understand that to get a basic Education degree, you need not learn any higher than 10th grade mathematics, if that much (there are special “Math for Education Majors” courses just to avoid the hard math). From here, if you want to get a graduate level Math Education degree, you still will not learn mathematics.

“A differentiable function is continuous, and a continuous function is differentiable. They mean the same thing.”

--A Math Educationist teaching calculus wrong. I don’t expect everyone to know how wrong this is, but it’s about as bad as a Historian saying in all seriousness that “George Washington conquered Japan before subduing Stalinist forces in Indonesia.”

     “I’ve been teaching it that way for years,” said the Educationist when I tried to explain that she was wrong…much like the textbook says explicitly with numerous examples. Note: this was at a state university, although I certainly saw similar from “Math Education” teachers at a questionable community college.

       After you get that graduate degree in Math Education, you can then become a mathematics professor. You won’t teach anything in your math courses, because you cannot possibly do so. You’ll have no choice but to pass all your students, because any student you fail will complain, rightly, that you’re incompetent. Such complaints invite scrutiny, which, since you are, actually, incompetent, you cannot afford.

      Admin will love you, support you, promote you, you might even make department head, because all admin cares about is no student complaints and 100% passing rates.

     I’ve seen this.

     With my own eyes.


Admin is quick to pour praise on the Education professor:

University of Illinois interim Provost John Wilkin told Fox News that Gutierrez is an established and admired scholar who has been published in many peer-reviewed publications.

     Hmm, she’s published, neat. I’ve shown before that peer review is a joke, since even a paper asserting that penises cause global warming can pass the peer review process no matter how idiotic (at best) the arguments.

     But that doesn’t mean her research is necessarily bad, of course. Let’s go to her profile and see if we can find any of this research. I can’t help but notice that none of her degrees are even remotely in mathematics. I know, degrees are overrated nowadays, but that worries me. 

      Her most recent published research is with, and I can’t make this title up, The Journal of Urban Mathematics Education. Sadly, it isn’t available to read online, nor is any of her other research; the titles of her papers indicate that she’s all about identity politics, there’s no actual mathematics in her work—nor should one expect there be, since she’s not a mathematics professor. She’s just some person who teaches math at the university level…for some reason.

       One comment from another site covers the real outrage we should have:

How horrible it must be to have children in school being taught by morons like this.

     Administrators are using “Education” as a joker to cover other college courses now. It’s a big part of what’s driving down the pay of professors. I certainly can understand why the gentle reader might not care about lower pay for professors, but allow me to hammer the issue down:

     Administration is lowering professor pay by hiring utterly incompetent, ignorant, Education teachers to teach courses they know nothing about. Admin doesn’t care about the fraud here, because the fraud helps them in two ways:

1 ) Lowering teacher pay puts more money into administrative pockets.

2 ) Incompetent teachers pass everyone and get few student complaints.

     To summarize, our kids are paying a fortune for their so-called “higher education,” and it’s being provided not merely in the cheapest possible way, but in a fraudulent way where they get a bogus education.

      And that is the real outrage revealed yet again, in this case by a pseudo-math professor spouting idiocy. That this idiocy is published, while I could get no publisher to consider my books revealing the immense fraud of higher education, is quite saddening.