Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mathematical Ebonics

Since we seem to live in a world where most people don't understand history we are now seeing the rise of "ethnomathematics" a culturally sensitive way to teach mathematics.

This is an effect of the Memory Hole. If you don't know history you can be fooled by people like this.

The oldest mathematical objects, bones with tally marks cut into them, are found in Africa, So counting is African.
Our numbers, 0-9, come from India.
Algebra was put together in the Middle East.
Geometry is something the Ancients Egyptians invented to return the land the NIle had flooded to the rightful owners and to build the Pyramids.
Trigonometry was organized by the Greeks but goes back to the Babylonians.
While calculus is definitely western with Newton (England) and Leibniz (German), it could never have been made without the underlying structure provided from everything that came before.

This is obviously another attempt to keep people in their place. When you start teaching people a different language, and make no mistake mathematics is definitely a language, then you are separating them from each other. People who speak the same language tend to congregate together. This is another thing that will divide and separate people.

This is actually worse then Ebonics, at least people understand that speaking a sort-of English is bad for their children's future. Most people don't care that they are not good at mathematics. so they wouldn't notice if something like this was instituted.

Imagine going to the store and having to present your "cultural background card" so the cash register could spit out a receipt in your culturally appropriate ethnomathematical notation. I am sure cash register companies would love it since all stores would have to replace their systems to be able to do that. Printing Mayan numbers base-20 would be a lot of fun or maybe Babylonian base-60.

Mathematics is a very simple language like music, could you image teaching one student only how to use quarter notes and another only whole notes because of their cultural background. That is insane of the face of it, and so is this "ethnomathematics." It would be like teaching pink kids that a chair is called table, brown kids should call it aardvark and yellow kids should call it kumquat.
People lost their lives trying to end "Separate but equal," and this is much worse then that, it is more like "Divide and conquer."

3 Comments:

Blogger Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Jonathan at OverEducation tells me that this is nothing to worry about, because he is a teacher and he knows that what happens at the university level will not affect what happens in the classroom.

29 June, 2005 07:08  
Blogger muse said...

Would the "new" math inventors want those teachers teaching their children and grandchildren?

29 June, 2005 21:14  
Blogger Stephan said...

If history is any guide the stuff happening in the universities now, will be in the classrooms in twenty years. They are teaching the teachers of tomorrow now, sure it will take time for them to rise up in the ranks to enforce these changes but it is only a matter of time.

Take the long view, they certainly seem to have.

As to who teaches their children, I am willing to bet that they go to private schools of some kind.

30 June, 2005 10:33  

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