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Ontario’s new curriculum claims math 'normalizes racism'

Ontario: "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.”

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Alex Anas Ahmed Calgary AB
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The 2021 grade 9 curriculum for Ontario's math program depicts math as a subjective method that normalizes racism and reinforces "Eurocentric mathematical knowledge."

The curriculum, which can be found on the Ontario government's website, states: “Mathematics is often positioned as an objective and pure discipline. However, the content and the context in which it is taught, the mathematicians who are celebrated, and the importance that is placed upon mathematics by society are subjective.”

It continues: "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.”

The 2021 curriculum advocates for students to “develop healthy and strong identities” in an “inclusive classroom.” It emphasizes the need to recognize and challenge systems of power and privilege – inside and outside the classroom – to eliminate systemic barriers and to serve students belonging to groups that have been historically disadvantaged and underserved in mathematics education.

The introduction cites research indicating sexual and ethnic minorities, and those with disabilities, experience systemic barriers to accessing high-level instruction in and support with learning mathematics.

"Systemic barriers, such as racism, implicit bias, and other forms of discrimination, can result in inequitable academic and life outcomes, such as low confidence in one’s ability to learn mathematics, reduced rates of credit completion, and leaving the secondary school system prior to earning a diploma."

Mathematics teachers have to promote cross-curricular learning and teach about human rights to create anti-racist, anti-discriminatory learning environments.

“To develop a strong understanding of mathematics and the ability to apply mathematics in real life, all students must feel that they are connected to the curriculum – to what is taught, why it is taught, and how it is taught.

“Educators have an obligation to develop and nurture learning environments that are reflective of and responsive to students’ strengths, needs, cultures, and diverse lived experiences – identity-affirming learning environments free from discrimination.

“In such learning environments, educators set appropriate and high academic expectations for all. An equitable mathematics curriculum recognizes that mathematics can be subjective.”

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