Rehumanizing Mathematics: A Vision for the Future

Rochelle Gutiérrez
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

For far too long, we have embraced an "equity" standpoint that has been poorly defined (Gutiérrez, 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 (Gutiérrez, 2002; 2012). In this talk, I focus on two areas for rehumanization: 1) teaching/learning and 2) scholars and everyday citizens.

With respect to teaching and learning, I present eight dimensions of a rehumanized mathematics classroom: participation/positioning; cultures/histories; windows/mirrors; living practice; broadening maths; creation; body/emotions; and ownership. Then, I offer ways for mathematicians and mathematics educators to take risks in ensuring those dimensions happens in small and large ways. In addition, with the recent national attacks on mathematics education scholars who address social justice and whiteness, I explain a bit about my case and then offer ways to rehumanize our field to affect scholars and everyday citizens. In particular, I highlight how understanding our history (e.g., how scientists in the 1970s stood for political and social action) as well as creating greater alliances between mathematicians and mathematics education scholars might allow us to take greater risks in our everyday work.

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