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Topic: multiculturalism
Replies: 1   Last Post: Nov 1, 1997 7:47 PM

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roitman@oberon.math.ukans.edu

Posts: 243
Registered: 12/6/04
multiculturalism
Posted: Nov 20, 1996 11:05 AM
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I wasn't going to answer the multicultural questions, figuring they were
meant for K-12 (I teach college), but having seen some of the responses I
need to say something.
>
>1. What are your opinions on multicultural education?


Several of the responses have asked what multicultural education means. I
assume it means letting students know that there is a wide world out there
with many different cultures, that these cultures interact, and in
particular interact in ways that have affected the development of what we
learn in schools. Such as, for example, mathematics.

>
>2. Does multicultural education belong in Mathematics, and if so do you
>have any suggestions for implementing it in the classroom?


Sure, let me give two examples.

1. Students need to know who invented 0, who invented base ten notation,
and how algebra (which has ancient roots) arose. They also need to
understand that notation is not a trivial thing; sometimes the lack of
decent notation prevents good mathematics from happening, or makes its
communication very difficult.

2. The Pythagorean theorem was independently discovered in many cultures.
Why not give proofs whose origins in these different cultures have been
documented, along with the names of the mathematicians to whom the proofs
are attributed? For a good example of this, see Burton's History of
Mathematics: An Introduction.

Now let me say what we should not do in the name of multiculturalism. We
should not elevate minor results to the status of major ones simply because
a non-white or non-male person came up with them. We should not do this
for two reasons: it is patronizing, and it is not necessary

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