The Politics of Mathematics: Just and Knowing Societies

Sandra Baldwin, Vicki Squires


Educational leaders and researchers recognize that mathematics can be an effective tool in enabling substantial advances in many fields of science and technology. However, the role that mathematics can play in shaping and creating socio-political views of societies is not as well understood. Within the mathematics’ learning community there is little discussion connecting the unique role that mathematics can play in conceptualizing a democratic society even within the democratic societies where that learning happens. Building capacity for learning in context is a critical piece of any comprehensive program but it is sometimes difficult for leaders to agree on what that context should and does look like. There are multitudes of influences at play when educational systems create and enact curricula but in order to push through the stalemate that can exist with different ideologies, it is essential to understand that mathematics can be a conduit to improvements in political social justice as well as a gateway to developments in science and technology. Mathematics has the potential to be a tool to create, as well as an instrument of influence; the key is for leaders to understand how to do both.

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