Monday, October 16, 2017

This Is Not a Parody - Texas State Looking to Hire Social Justice Math Professors

If there is any field where your socioeconomic, ethnic, cultural, or any other factor shouldn't matter, it's math.  I will bet my life that anyone who solves a math problem will get the same answer if they set it up and cranked correctly.

Nevertheless PJMedia links to Campus Reform to report that Texas State University - read that again: Texas State - wants to hire two math professors "committed to social justice"
Texas State University is hoping to hire two Math Education professors with a demonstrated and longstanding commitment to “social justice.”

According to the job postings on Inside Higher Ed, the two new professors must not only share TSU’s commitment to “education equity” and “social justice,” but should preferably also have a demonstrated record of engagement or academic research on the issue.

The openings are for both tenured or tenure-track positions at the “ranks of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor,” with different levels of social-justice expertise preferred at each level.

Among the preferred qualifications for the Assistant Professor rank is a “demonstrated knowledge and engagement” with issues including “social justice, equity, access, and multilingual learning,” while the Associate and Full Professor ranks prefer “evidence of research and practices” on such topics.
Back during the dark years of the previous administration, the idea of Social Justice Math came up and in 2011 I downloaded a file called "A Guide for Integrating Issues of Social and Economic Justice into Mathematics Curriculum" by a guy named Jonathan Osler (pdf warning).  It's really hard to ridicule this too much, or to ridicule the fact that it's taken seriously.  I can see "multilingual learning" - maybe - because of the demographics in Texas, but the rest is self-parodying.  

As always, never underestimate the enemy.  Osler has become the founder of a group called Radical Math dedicated to pushing his ideas.  Look around at Radical Math - won't take you a minute.  While I laud the idea that perhaps the math doesn't seem relevant to kids, and it's possible that Osler and his acolytes may take rational approaches to the problems they set up, I'm extremely doubtful any good comes of this.  Maybe they can dress up problems in different ways and get people to pay more attention.  Maybe, maybe by trying to be "relevant" to some subset of students, math teachers may reach more of them, but the last hundred and twenty years of history says this probably isn't a good thing and it makes me a bit sick to my stomach.    

Probably the best known quote about math and statistics is, "figures don't lie, but liars can figure".  Somehow that goes here.
(Just looking for a snazzy looking picture that doesn't necessarily mean anything.  H/T to Peak Prosperity)


  1. math other words, education majors. TOTALLY infested with SJWs even here in TX.

    And, no, you don't get it right for getting the right answer. You must demonstrate that you used their F'd up new method too. My 8yo daughter just got marked down because, despite just adding the two numbers and getting the correct sum, she didn't spend the time breaking them down into "number bonds" and moving units from one number to the other to make it "easier to add". Nope. And she asked me, "why can't I just add them?" EX. what is 49 + 51? answering 100 is not enough. you must show that you made it 50 + 50 first.

    It's all designed to make them feel stupid and dependent on random praise, breaking down any sort of self confidence.

    I hate it.


    1. I'll be the first person to say that in a world of ubiquitous calculators, maybe we don't need to do things the way we did a hundred years ago and maybe we don't need to do lots of arithmetic, but I'm pretty certain what they've decided to do isn't right, either.

      Conceptually, once a kid understands lines and slopes, they can think of the slope of a curve - which is calculus. They should be bringing the advanced stuff on earlier, not teaching them tricks to do arithmetic without a calculator for 10 years.

  2. If I was interviewing somebody for a job that required technical skills and they related that they learned ANY science in a social justice setting, the application would go into the trash.

    1. And if the EEOC found you had done that, you would be in jail and the applicant would have your job. THAT is how this country's "Legal" system works today.

  3. My college Algebra teacher was a Pakistani PhD in Nuclear physics. My Trig teacher was a Chinese woman. I took two years of calculus in college. The first two semesters were taught by a Chinese man with poor English skills. He would face the blackboard writing with his right hand and erasing with his left and talking over his shoulder. All we did was take notes and then try to figure out what he was writing. The next four semesters were taught by a Mexican-American, blind in one eye and he told jokes while teaching, Great teacher by the way. Talk about ethnic and cultural in math.
    My Numerical analysis class was taught by a 27 year old PhD in math. He was the youngest person in the class, pretty good teacher but tough and demanding.

  4. I get it. There are many different algorithms to do arithmetic. The algorithms we use on paper, on our fingers, in our heads, and several variations in our CPUs are all different because they match differing configurations of short term memory/registers. Mental large numbers are floating point. "About fifty 50 doubled is about 100" is a valid mental approximation. Give the kids a pocket-sized circular slide rule and they'll learn to use the multiplication tables backwards, too.

    Of course the government schools do a poor job. That's their goal.

    Russ Kick offers this in summary:

    "In other words, the captains of industry and government explicitly wanted an educational system that would maintain social order by teaching us just enough to get by but not enough so that we could think for ourselves, question the sociopolitical order, or communicate articulately."

  5. Back in another century I got to know my calculus teacher in college well enough that we had a discussion about the then new claims that math tests were racist because blacks did not do as well on them as Asians and whites. He thought there was some factor we did not, as yet, understand about the test designs.
    He had taught for several years at a college in Arkansas. There were a substantial number of black students in his classes.
    The reason he thought there was something wrong with the testing was that black students would often score lower on tests than if they had just answered multiple guess questions randomly.
    This does make one think, but most math tests I took required you to "show your work."
    Still, it does make one think about why a group would consistently score lower than if they had just chosen the answers at random.