In analyzing the phrase “social justice,” we see how prefixing the word justice with any modifier inverts its meaning. It turns something easily understood – inherently unambiguous, in fact – into something for noisy groups to argue and negotiate. But then, attempts to redefine “justice” to accommodate some trendy Cause are as old as Mankind itself. What’s newsworthy is the noisy groups’ attempt to redefine mathematics:
The California State Board of Education issued on July 12 a new framework for teaching math based on what it calls “updated principles of focus, coherence, and rigor.” The word “updated” is certainly accurate. Not so much “principles,” “focus,” “coherence” or “rigor.” California’s new approach to math is as unfair as it is unserious.
The framework is voluntary, but it will heavily influence school districts and teachers around the Golden State. Developed over the past four years, it runs nearly 1,000 pages. Among the titles of its 14 chapters are “Teaching for Equity and Engagement,” “Structuring School Experiences for Equity and Engagement” and “Supporting Educators in Offering Equitable and Engaging Mathematics Instruction.” The guidelines demand that math teachers be “committed to social justice work” to “equip students with a toolkit and mindset to identify and combat inequities with mathematics”—not with the ability to do math. Far more important is teaching students that “mathematics plays a role in the power structures and privileges that exist within our society.”
California’s education bureaucrats are seeking to reinvent math as a grievance study. “Big ideas are central to the learning of mathematics,” the framework insists, but the only big idea the document promotes is that unequal outcomes in math performance are proof of a racist society.
This is not a perfectly new phenomenon. I remember, from the early nineties, some aggrieved bitch on WCBS-AM ranting that the idea of a “right answer” to a math problem is inherently faulty. “There are good answers, and there are answers that are less good,” she said. She condemned the teaching of arithmetic and any higher use of mathematics for that reason. I suspected immediately that she, or perhaps one of her children, had failed a math test and she was determined to get back at someone. Why the program directors at WCBS radio gave her airtime, I cannot know.
Tell me, Gentle Reader: Once we omit the possibility of a “right answer,” what remains. BRRRING! Got it one, didn’t you, you clever fellow! What remains is opinion. And as we know from what the world has come to call Porretto’s Anatomical Axiom:
Opinions Are Like Assholes:
Everyone’s Gotta Have One.
“Social justice” is always someone’s opinion, no matter the subject, time, place, or circumstances. It is never a fixed, objectively correct thing. Indeed, in a realm that demands fixed rules and absolute adherence to them, “social justice” has no place. Mathematics is such a realm. Moreover, the statistical superiority at math of men over women, whites over blacks, and the careful over the casual reveals that some groups just aren’t as good at math as others. Ergo, as we mathematical types like to say, the Left must destroy traditional mathematics education as “socially unjust.” (Have a quod erat demonstrandum for lagniappe.)
One of my stepdaughters gravitated to mathematics early in life. She found that she loved it because for once there were right answers to the problems she was set. There was no room for opinion – including that of her math teacher. It led her to an enduring love of the sciences, of which mathematics is the foundation. Today she teaches the sciences in a nearby school district.
The educational goal of the Left is to establish as dogma that there are no right answers in any realm of thought. The destruction of mathematics education is central to that aim. Imagine what would happen to the more powerful, more inquisitive minds among our young were they to be convinced of that proposition. If all things are a matter of opinion, and no one’s opinion is better than anyone else’s, where is knowledge? What happens to the concept of truth? Would there be any hope for the continuation of scientific inquiry? And what about engineering? Would things designed and built by our posterity work?
Feel free to shudder.
If it cannot be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion. – Robert A. Heinlein