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Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

2 Articles Tagged with “social justice”

  1. What are your blindspots?

    I’ve been reading Hidden Figures, in anticipation of the movie coming out next week. It’s a fantastic book, and I already have so much I want to say in the review. This is one topic that would be too much of a digression, so I’ve spun it out into an adequate starting place for my blog posts of 2017.

    Throughout the book, Margot Lee Shetterly discusses the attitudes of people towards Black, female computers working at NACA/NASA. One thing that really got me was her descriptions of how these women were simply used to the discrimination and segregation foisted upon them by life in Virginia, how they might not like it, but they tolerated and accepted it. Moreover, Shetterly goes on to discuss the white people who would work with these women, even be congenial towards them, yet did nothing to stand up against these policies, to dismantle them, to protest them or support the fledgling civil rights movement. These well-educated, fairly progressive white people, who were happy to let Black women work alongside them, could not necessarily support these women using the same bathroom or living in the same part of town. That would be going too far.

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  2. Why Wente is wrong about math education

    I woke up on Friday to see a page from Thursday’s Globe and Mail on the living room table. My dad had flagged an article by Margaret Wente as something that I might find relevant. You can find it online under the title “Too many teachers can’t do math, let alone teach it”, but in the paper itself it was published with the headline, “Go figure, because teachers can’t.” I encourage you to read the article, but the gist goes like this: elementary teachers, according to Wente, are failing to teach students the basics of math, because faculties of education don’t take their responsibility to prepare those teachers seriously enough.

    By way of disclaimer, I am preparing to teach at the Intermediate/Senior level (I/S), or grades 7–12. As an I/S teacher, and as a formally-trained mathematician, I have to admit to a bias when it comes to this subject: I do worry about how well-prepared elementary teachers are to teach math. I’ve marked for a course that teaches elementary concepts to prospective teachers, and some of the answers to the assignments are … creative. However, my concern isn’t so much with their knowledge of content; I worry more about…

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