As societal beliefs ebb and flow, there are some things you think just will never change. For me, math was one of those. However, I seem to be wrong in that assumption. The Seattle school district has put together a new math curriculum, one that digs deeper in the subject of math, analyzing origins, oppressiveness, and racism, among other things. Let’s take a deeper look at the significance of this new idea and how it affects us.

Math Itself IS NOT Oppressive

I’m sure we have all felt before that math is oppressive, but more so in the way in which finding a derivative or anti derivative of calculus makes us sweat by the thought of it. Who knows the unit circle anyways? Jokes aside, 2 + 2 = 4, 5 squared is 25, and sin(0) = 0. These are factual answers that have a right and wrong answer. Math stands out from other subjects for the reason that it is not subjective to the mathematician. I cannot tell you that 4 + 3 = 10 and it be right, it’s simply wrong.

Last time I checked, a number was not attacking someone or their emotions. Mathematics is established throughout the universe, something beautiful instilled by our Creator. Mathematics allows us to keep finances, track objects, calculate force, determine how much of something we have; the uses are infinite. It is sure that math, in its purest form, is not oppressive.

Interpretation

That brings us to interpretation. I agree with the idea that the implementation of mathematical interpretations can be oppressive. Gerrymandering districts based on population and demographics uses math, but it is an interpretation and implementation of data. This requires an outside mind. The population density of an area is not oppressive, but when that number is taken into account for where to draw party lines, one may argue oppression. Now, is all math fundamentally true? Well, that’s an interesting question, but I highly doubt that K-12 kids will be doing such math that has not yet been proven.

Where Does This Take Truth?

In the K-12 Math Framework from Seattle schools, there are “Essential Questions” given that the curriculum will help students ask and answer. Here are a few:

  • “How important is it to be right?”
  • “Who gets to say if an answer is right?”
  • “What is the process for verifying the truth?”
  • “What is my mathematical identity?”
  • “Who is doing the oppressing?”

Wow, some of those questions are quite intriguing. I can see how some may be very valid questions to ask, maybe even all of them to an extent. But in a math class? I don’t think so. At some point in our communities we must come to a point where a truth can be agreed on. For decades, this area has been math. It seems undisputed, either you are right or wrong, but suddenly that doesn’t matter anymore.

Who Cares If You’re Right

In this postmodern society, we have come to a scary point. The point where truth is less useful than a non-truth, the point where being right becomes oppressive to the party that is wrong. This is what makes discussion and learning so tough; no one really cares if they are wrong because its seems to not matter. This idea of Feeling Truth has been addressed before, but seeing a real life example is another step in the wrong direction. In our society, we should be on high alert for these instances. Examine places where a truth has become less valuable. These are marks of a society that is running away from truth.

Next Steps

As Christians standing for the truth, we should approach this with caution. In a place where truth is not valued, Jesus’ Truth is not valued. The absolute truth of sin is dismissed, along with any truth that supports Christianity. This leads down a slippery slope that is not easily recovered from. If you are wanting to dig more into this idea of truth, check out a post here. It is vital that we are actively growing in our relationship with Christ and praying for those we are trying to share with. Be patient, and try to point out certain truths of life, such as the idea of morals and a conscience.

What are your thoughts?

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