Rehumanizing Mathematics: Should That Be Our Goal?
Rochelle Gutiérrez, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
This presentation is co-hosted by CSME and the College of Education.
For far too long, we have embraced an “equity” standpoint that has been poorly defined (Gutierrez, 2002) or constantly shifting (NCTM, 2008). It has been difficult to assess progress beyond closing the achievement gap or recruiting more diverse students into the mathematical sciences. Instead, we should rehumanize mathematics, which considers not just access and achievement, but the politics in teaching and mathematics. This approach begins with 1) acknowledging some of the dehumanizing experiences in mathematics for students and teachers and 2) how students could be provided with windows and mirrors onto the world and ways of relating to each other with dignity. As such, we can begin to think differently about student misconceptions, teachers as identity workers, and why it is not just that diverse people need mathematics but mathematics needs diverse people (Gutierrez, 2002; 2012). I present eight dimensions of a rehumanized mathematics classroom (participation/positioning; cultures/histories; windows/mirrors; living practice; broadening maths; creation; body/emotions; and ownership) as well as how mathematicians and mathematics educators can take risks in ensuring those happens in small and large ways. In addition, with the recent attacks on mathematics education scholars who address social justice and whiteness, I offer ways to rehumanize our field. In particular, I highlight how understanding our history (e.g., how scientists in the 1970s stood for political and social action) and creating greater alliances between mathematicians and mathematics education scholars might allow us to take greater risks in our everyday work.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Gutiérrez’ scholarship focuses on equity issues in mathematics education, paying particular attention to how race, class, and language affect teaching and learning. Through in-depth analyses of effective teaching/learning communities and longitudinal studies of developing and practicing teachers, her work challenges deficit views of students who are Latin@/x, Black, and/or American Indian and suggests that mathematics teachers need to be prepared with much more than just content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, or knowledge of diverse students if they are going to be successful. Her current research projects focus upon: developing in pre-service teachers the knowledge and disposition to teach powerful mathematics to urban students; the roles of uncertainty, tensions, and “Nepantla” in teaching; and the political knowledge (and forms of creative insubordination) that mathematics teachers need to effectively teach in an era of high-stakes education.