This Week at Global Math – 1/19/21


Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions


Building Fact Fluency Through Virtual Storytelling

Presented by Graham Fletcher

When we ask students to memorize their facts, we are essentially asking them to memorize over 100 isolated equations. This approach doesn’t allow students to explore the relationships between numbers that are foundational to mathematics. In this session, we’ll explore the important role that context plays in developing fact fluency. By purposefully sequencing a series of tasks and activities through the same context, students can begin to make connections and develop an understanding that is scalable well beyond single digits.

To register for this webinar, click here.

Volunteers Needed: Editor of Captioning for Webinars

We want our webinars to be accessible to everyone, but we need help to meet that goal.

The reason the Global Math Department community is so wonderful is because we have a solid group of volunteers working behind the scenes.  Since our webinars are free, we cannot afford software to caption the recordings of our webinars.  Captioning in YouTube works at times, but needs to be edited to be accurate.  If you have 4 hours a month that you could devote to editing the webinar captioning, please let us know. (If we have multiple volunteers we will distribute this workload!) 

Send an email to to express your interest in volunteering.  Training will be provided and you can work at your own pace.

Check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.


The Narcissism of Mathematics Education
In “The Narcissism of Mathematics Education”, Alexandre Pais says that “mathematics education research is narcissistic because, lacking a concrete object, it sees nothing but itself”.  Math education researchers who talk about “mathematics for all” turn a blind eye to the reality that many students are in math class for the school credit, and so mathematics is not actually “for all”. Instead, math education researchers—and by extension people interested in this research—create “an imaginary world where mathematics can be an adventure into knowledge, the ultimate problem solving technology or the most crucial component of critical citizenship”. 
The math education research community, as he claims, is sometimes so optimistic about the role of math in kids’ lives that we don’t stop to consider when kids may be in it for the grades and not the math. By subtracting from reality the economic role of school math, the research community flourishes under the illusion that math has inherent relevance while creating the very problems it seeks to address.
That’s quite the claim, and in response I say, cool, then let’s be narcissists. I don’t entirely agree with his argument. But even to the extent that he’s correct, it’s still an open question where this thinking takes us. The recent events at the Capitol and everything else kicking off 2021 make clear that taking a critical approach to mathematical, quantitative, statistical, scientific, and data literacy is now more important than ever. 
I think about a thread by Aristotle Ou, in which he, Jenna Laib, and Marian Dingle talk about asking students to feel and act in response to U.S. poverty rates and economic justice.
I think about the mathematics of machine learning algorithms, which have been used in AI technologies to perpetuate gender and racial bias. The Algorithmic Justice League has a new film, Coded Bias, which is screening in virtual theaters beginning this week.
I think about Kendra Pierre-Louis’s open question about how often the media covers white supremacists versus people who have experienced white supremacist violence.
I think about how many executions are happening now and how much racial bias continues to exist in a school-to-prison pipeline that can ultimately end in death.
I think about how $1400 is not enough and the mathematical models that have supported fiscal conservatism for the past four years.
I think about the minimum wage, teacher salaries, experiments around UBI, and the economic and mathematical “common sense” that drives repeated arguments against wage increases.
I think about the overwhelming whiteness of mathematics that results in this.
I think about this analysis of Paycheck Protection Program funding given to charter schools, religious schools, and private schools across the U.S.
I think about the spatial relationship between COVID fatalities and vaccinations in the U.S.
I think about pharmaceutical price hikes, bonus formulas, and what we let people do with math when we’re too preoccupied by whether the math is technically correct.
These mathematical questions matter. They touch students’ lives in ways that are sometimes hard to see and other times grievously easy. They are as real as grades and should be among the driving forces behind everything that goes on in math education. Sadly, this is not always the case.

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