Why We Need Our Math Organizations More Than Ever

Black Lives Matter was not a “2020” thing. Just being conservative, it is the third decade of the 21st century thing. Unfortunately, the pandemic has wiped out almost 2 years of in-person conferences. Thankfully, many wonderful virtual conferences have still occurred and given space/time to the pressing, emergent issues of equity/racism in math education.

But, we need to see each other. To shake hands, give warm embraces, and in-person smiles to each other — to give human color and urgency to the deep equity issues in math education. It’s more than an inflection point. It’s a point of incendiary revolution. There are so many voices that are offering an unvarnished clarion call to this critical moment in time — Dr. Kris Childs, Marian Dingle, Robert Berry, Christina Lincoln-Moore, Lou Matthews, etc.

If I can take a page out of Anthony Bourdain. We need to shut up and listen.

However, we need thriving and healthy organizations that can affirmatively and unabashedly host these ideas. And, not just in spirit, but in body. We need to have in person conferences to transmit the energy of our stories of anguish, heartbreak, and hope. We need a place of resistance and hope that extinguishes the racism in math education.

Anti-racist math education is BETTER content and pedagogy. However, just blogs and virtual conferences are not enough. We need to gather. We need to celebrate. We need to advocate. We need to be the agents of change and see others who carry the flag of activism and defiance.

Fortunately, the leadership at key math organizations like NCTM and NCSM are “all in” with regards to exploring the deepest ideas of equity in math education. If it’s an uncomfortable conversation, these organizations are there to support them.

And now, we need to support them. It’s been a tough few years for them. They have given so much to us in the past, it is now important that we give to them. And, without a healthy and potent locus to transmit and broadcast the dominant math education themes of our times, we will be hobbled in making the systemic changes that are needed.

Being Canadian and an audiophile, I think the best lyrics that sum up our cause come from the 1981 song “Fight The Good Fight” by Triumph.

Until we meet again…

Author of Pi of Life: The Hidden Happiness of Mathematics and Co-Author of Math Recess: Playful Learning in the Age of Disruption. Speaker. Amplify and Mathigon