In his latest grenade, John McWhorter unloads on the math curriculum update proposal that’s been produced by the Gates Foundation, taken seriously in school districts all over the country, and promoted by at least one state—Oregon:
There are two things. Racism and religion. Just those.
As in, first it is racism propounded as antiracism. Black kids shouldn’t expected to master the precision of math and should be celebrated for talking around it, gamely approximating its answers and saying why it can be dangerous? This is bigotry right out of Reconstruction, Tulsa, Selma, and Charlottesville.
Second, it is not science but scripture. It claims to be about teaching math while founded on shielding students from the requirement to actually do it. This is unempirical. It does so with an implication that only a moral transgressor numb to some larger point would question the contradiction. This is, as such, a religious document, telling you to accept that Jesus walked on water.
Humans may grievously sacrifice the 9-year-old, the virgin, or the widow upon the pyre in worship of a God. Too, humans may sacrifice the black kid from the work of mastering the gift of math, in favor of showing that they are enlightened enough to understand that her life may be affected by racism and that therefore she should be shielded from anything that is a genuine challenge.
This is not pedagogy; it is preaching.
For those who believe this report is inconsequential and just a cause célèbre for right-wingers I would submit that a) at least one state is promoting it and b) John McWhorter is no right-winger. So, not inconsequential.
If adopted such a curriculum would tarnish the futures of an entire cohort of young students. What’s important in science and engineering is not your intentions or your history but whether the chemical process you’ve designed explodes or produces polystyrene, whether the rocket actually gets to the moon, whether the bridge falls down, or the patient recovers. And China, Japan, and India will not be burdened with such claptrap.
This all sounds to me like the revenge of people who couldn’t do math.
The tragedy of it is that my experience, at least, is that black folk can do math. Some excel at it. Shielding them from it to end white supremacy is shielding them from what they can and what they need to succeed in the interests of, what? Patronization?