Dear MTC Leaders,
The American Institute of Mathematics and the Math Teachers’ Circle Network stand in solidarity with the Black community and with peaceful protesters across the nation and the world in outrage, grief, and despair over the brutal police killing of George Floyd and many other Black individuals before him.
In this moment, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to reaffirm our commitment to diversity and inclusion in the fundamental human endeavor of mathematics. Yet, in the face of such injustice, it can be tempting to feel that our daily work of teaching, learning, and doing mathematics is not important. When we feel that way, I would urge us all to remember that, as James Tanton so eloquently wrote in his recent letter to the Global Math Project community:
“…the fact is we are a community of educators, working with the citizens of the planet’s future: our students. Our conversations, our teaching, our interactions are all part of the fabric of human connection, human support, and the modeling of uplifting, supportive and inclusive human behavior. It is incumbent upon each of us to create an equitable community environment that is emotionally safe for each and every one of our students, genuinely celebratory of all our individual and collective successes, and guiding, understanding, and supportive of all our individual and collective challenges.
“The teaching of mathematics is really the teaching of agency. We foster the ability to examine what you know and to question how you think you know it. We help develop the flexibility to adjust to ever-expanding contexts, and we promote confidence in seeing problems and taking first steps—any steps—to solving them. As trivial as it seems, dividing polynomials in an 1 ← x machine, say, serves as emotionally safe ground for practicing broad life-skills and steps of agency. We cannot hide away from our responsibilities as mathematics educators. We can, and do, have profound life impacts on our students.”
Let us not retreat from this moment in silence, then, but instead commit to draw upon the power and beauty of mathematics as we work together to bring about systemic change and greater justice for our students and our society.