We have GOT to stop remarking about the government schools and how much worse they’re getting. They’re taking it as a challenge.

According to Seattle educators, math instruction in the United States is an example of “Western Math,” which apparently is the appropriation of mathematical knowledge by Western cultures. While everyone agrees that two plus two is four, three times three is nine, and that there are three hundred and sixty degrees in a circle, Western Math critics worry about more nuanced issues, such as why we teach kids Western counting and not, for example, how the Aborigines count.

Apparently, ancient cultures also used different terminology to refer to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They may have focused on geometric shapes different from triangles and circles. They may have called the degrees in a circle something other than degrees. And now it seems that math education—in all of its abstraction—should become culturally and socially focused away from those Westerners who coopted it.  

Seattle’s new proposed math curriculum will take US public school math instruction where no one has gone before.

Students will be taught how “Western Math” is used as a tool of power and oppression, and that it disenfranchises people and communities of color. They will be taught that “Western Math” limits economic opportunities for people of color. They will be taught that mathematics knowledge has been withheld from people of color.

I observe that before you build a new house, you need to tear the old one down. Clearly, that’s the object here. The question becomes, however, why on earth would anyone send their children to such a school?