University of Illinois Professor Claims Math Education Perpetuates White Privilege

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images

A math education professor at the University of Illinois argues that the teaching of math subjects perpetuates white privilege because they were developed by the Greeks and others Europeans.

“Mathematics itself operates as whiteness,” Professor Rochelle Gutierrez of the University of Illinois writes. “Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as white.”

“School mathematics curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean Theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans,” she adds.

Professor Gutierrez’s thoughts on the topic came in the form of an article that was published in an anthology for math educators.

In a comment to Fox News, University of Illinois interim Provost John Wilkin claimed that Gutierrez is an admired scholar who has been published in many prestigious publications.

“As with all of our faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Prof. Gutierrez has the rights of academic freedom necessary to pursue scholarship and research on important subjects and to reach conclusions even if some might disagree with those conclusions,” Wilkin said. “The issues around equity and access in education are real – with significant implications to our entire educational system. Exploring challenging pedagogical questions is exactly what faculty in a world-class college of education should be doing.”

Gutierrez argues that minorities face a disadvantage in math classrooms because their peers don’t view them as mathematical.  “If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she claims.

Gutierrez, supposedly an expert on math and the practice of teaching it, argues that there is no such thing as objective truth: “Things cannot be known objectively; they must be known subjectively.”

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