Doris Daniel

Kristen Thomas

Kristen Robinson

Melanie Sauer

Rebecca Parker

Doris Daniel

Reflection on "Race, Retrenchment, and the Reform of School Mathematics" March 21, 2001

1. How does this article speak to you when thinking about your Unit of Field Study?

I have very mixed feelings about the article. I am very willing to do whatever I can to help my students to learn math because that is my purpose as a teacher. But, I donŐt know what to think about all of the "special attention" that is requested in this article. I feel like once we begin to gear our attention towards helping African Americans to learn math, then maybe we are hurting otherŐs opportunity to learn or we might begin to get more pleas for extra attention by all of the minority groups. As a teacher, I donŐt think that we are able to give that special attention to everyone that needs it. I also think that one of the only times that we need to use special language for different backgrounds of people is in word problems. Mathematics is almost a language by itself, which everyone has to adapt to in order to fully understand.

2. Are there elements or pieces of this article that you can use in thinking about or designing Unit of Field Study?

I think that one of the main things that I will take away from this article are all of the examples of incidences that happened to other teachers. I will learn from their mistakes and remember never to make those same mistakes. Another lesson is how to deal with the mistakes. Many teachers say that they try to learn about the studentsŐ backgrounds so that they can prevent making cultural or racial language mistakes.

3. How does this article speak to you about CTL teaching and learning in mathematics?

Well, I think that it has really mainly touched on the curriculum that we teach. We are beginning to really learn of the obstacles that we face as teachers dealing with students of a different race or culture. This article also focuses a lot on the community aspect of CTL. We need to be aware of the other cultures and their traditions, language, etc.

4. What stands out for you when you read this article as it relates to CTL teaching and learning in mathematics?

This portion of the article stuck out to me: "One important purpose of mathematics education is to prepare students to incorporate mathematical reasoning and communication into their everyday lives. However, conventional pedagogy has often persuaded students-particularly African American students-to consider school mathematics as a subject divorced from their everyday experiences and from their attempts to make sense of their world." I think that this excerpt sums up the main point of this article. But, then again, I think that almost all students (of every race) believe that math does not apply to real world experiences. Kids do not think that math is important and I think that teachers deal with this problem with all students. Another portion of the article that I liked was this: "Recent data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicate that African Americans, across the grade levels tested, scored significantly better on portions of the test related to factual knowledge and basic computational skills than they did in 1978 or in 1982. However, no growth was evident on portions of the test that assessed more advanced levels of mathematical reasoning." This is interesting to me because I sincerely believe in tests. I have done many papers and a lot of research on tests, and I believe that they are effective. So, this leads me to believe that there is indeed a problem. We need to find a way to help these kids to learn math, but I am just worried about the solutions that we are posing, such as teaching geared to the minorities.


While I was reading, I considered the role of the schoolŐs community and the role of the studentŐs community when teaching from a CTL perspective. I think that each of these issues should be a major concern for us as future teachers. The way of teaching is greatly changing when it comes to multicultural education. I believe that a schoolŐs and a studentŐs community greatly influence the way that every teacher teaches and most likely, causes a lot of problems in the classroom. I think that one of the main problems is a teacher teaching a student that is a different race or culture than they are. I, personally, grew up going to an all white private school all of my life, and I was taught by all white teachers, mainly female. I never really experienced many classroom problems because we (the students and teachers) all had fairly similar backgrounds. But, I do believe that, like Delpit said, "Many of the difficulties teachers encounter with children who are different in background from themselves are related to this underlying attitudinal difference in the appropriate display of explicitness and personal power in the classroom".

I believe that, particularly in mathematics, the stereotype is for all of the teachers to be of Chinese or Japanese decent. I think that in a mathematical context, we must consider if the students use the same mathematical language and symbols as we do. We also typically assign word problems to our students, and we should make sure that these students are familiar with the situation in the word problems. For example, in mathematics, a trough is a commonly seen drawing, and last semester in class, Ava had to ask the teacher what a trough was. She had always assumed it was a boat because that is what it looked like to her in all of the drawings that she had seen. This showed the class a little bit of biased use of the word and drawing of the trough.

I agree with the whole concept that Delpit is trying to get across. I think that she has good intentions. All of the children have their very own personality and their very own background. Each child has his or her very own academic problems that must be dealt with in the classroom. I believe that every person is an individual and should be recognized for all of his or her very own qualities. I do not necessarily disagree with some of the things that she mentioned, but I do question a lot of them. I do not think that it is right for the teacher to allow Marti, the second-grader (p.169), to speak in ebonics. I think that the teachers actions were fine. Although many writers do use this type of language, I do not think that in the second grade, Marti is going to understand that she can and cannot use that language in certain situations. She should be taught the correct way to speak English. I also question whether teachers will be able to accommodate all of his or her students needs. I understand that on a one-to-one basis, that an individual can receive "special" attention, but when speaking to the class as a whole, how do you culturally satisfy everyone?

These readings have a very serious effect on how I will teach. I read a lot on these types of issues because, honestly, I am still learning about the existence of this issue myself. I have never had to confront this issue, and I want to be prepared for it when I am confronted with it. I think it is wonderful that teachers are making a conscience effort to reconstruct the way that we teach in order to better educate children. We are teachers because we love kids and we want to help them learn, so we should be willing and able to do anything that we can to encourage all types of children to learn.

to top

Elizabeth Jones

Reflection Paper The article "Race, Retrenchment, and the Reform of School Mathematics," by William Tate, discusses the importance of trying to connect the pedagogy of mathematics to the lives of African American students in the classroom. It is argued that "the mathematics that is built on a student's life experiences provides two mathematics learning environments- within the school and outside of the school" (Tate 478). I agree with this statement wholeheartedly because many students cannot grasp concepts in mathematics solely for the purpose that they cannot see how the material relates to their own lives and personal experiences. Tate believes that connecting the pedagogy of mathematics to the lives of African American students is crucial to allowing the conditions in the mathematics classroom to be equal for all students.

When thinking about CTL teaching and learning in mathematics, the idea is that content and context must be related for students to be able to make any connections with the material they learn in the classroom to their own experiences and understand the information on a deeper level. Also, this article advocates bringing out the sense of community within the mathematics classroom by having the teacher take responsibility for learning about the student's lives and the community in which they live to relate material to their lives, and at the same time, possibly teach the others in the class about another student's culture. I believe that it is important for students to understand and be exposed to cultures other than their own in order to have a sense of other's experiences and their reasons for living the way that they do.

On the other hand, I realize that it may be impossible for students to learn material that relates to their lives all of the time in all aspects of their work because the mathematics curriculum is often times not very conducive. At a more advanced level, mathematics is often times much more abstract than the basic computations that are learned usually in the beginning of a student's high school experience. Although, much of mathematics includes problem solving, where teachers can relate to the students by creating problems that they can connect with. Teachers can also create projects and assignments that include problems that may directly affect students, such as Tate's example about the liquor store.

The ideas from this article that stand out and relate to CTL teaching and learning in mathematics are the ideas about going into a classroom with ideas about groups of students that may help us to teach and understand a student more clearly, but on the other hand, students should not be labeled as a group with stereotypes. Therefore, I believe that each student, no matter what you have heard in the past, should be given an equal chance as every other student in the classroom and should basically start out with a "clear slate." Therefore, students should not be tracked or segregated on the basis of their race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc., and instead, they should all be looked at as individuals because it is true that every student is different.

To top

Kristen Robinson

Race, Retrenchment, and the Reform of School Mathematics Reflection.

The overall impression I have after reading Tate's article is that, while I do agree with some of the author's points, I mostly disagree with this article. I do not like that the article focuses wholly on African American students. Every type of student should be taught in the best way fit for him. Furthermore, I disagree that all white students do not know the feeling of being taught by someone who does not reach you and does not relate to you. A white student taught by a black teacher or a Latino teacher or any other ethnicity could feel out of place and lost in his classroom. Additionally, a male taught by a female could feel that she was not reaching him and could not relate to his experiences. The fact is that everyone on the planet is different from everyone else on the planet. The best thing for educators to do is to try and find some kind of middle ground so that they can reach as many of the students in their classrooms as possible.

Tate states that "pedagogy for African American students is hampered by the following conditions of their schooling: 1) persistent tracking, 2) less access than other students to the best-qualified teachers of mathematics, and 3) fewer opportunities to use technology in school mathematics" (478). African American students are not the only ones with these problems. Students with disabilities such as dyslexia and ADD often are placed under persistent tracking in every subject area. However, a student with dyslexia who does not perform well in English class may be a genius when it comes to math class. Since this student is tracked into the lower level academics, he will never get the most out of his education. Furthermore, students in rural areas often have less-qualified teachers because well-qualified teachers take higher paying jobs in urban and suburban towns. These same students have less access to technology than students in urban and suburban areas because they have less money within their communities.

To top

Kristen Thomas

"Race, Retrenchment, and the Reform of School Mathematics"

Whenever my group plans the field trip, we will be sure to think about the context and content of our activity. For example, if we are planning on asking questions to our students, we will be sure to include questions that can relate to everyone. A good way to implement this idea would be make sure we know all of the ethnic groups involved in our class. This way we could try not to ask questions that were biased only toward one group.

Centricity was a very important idea in this article. Centricity is " a perspective that involves locating students within the context of their own cultural references so that they can relate socially and psychologically to other cultural perspectives." There were many examples in the article about how hard it was for some students to answer questions because the question was based on a stereotype. Within our project, we will make a special effort not to resort to the types of activities/questions that result from a stereotype we perceive. Alternatively, we will strive to open our eyes and minds to different perspectives in hopes of reaching all of the children.

This article, I believe, was a very good article stressing the importance of trying to reach every culture. This idea mainly reflects community within our studentŐs lives. Every child grows up in a different kind of environment. Many times, not always, the childŐs ethnicity displays his/her environment. But also, the childŐs socioeconomic status affects the environment they are raised in. Therefore, because of these differences, in a way to incorporate community into the classroom, we as teachers need to reach out and try to relate to the environments our students are raised in. It is, in my opinion, the teacherŐs responsibility to make this outreach. Basically, this outreach requires a lot of hard work and determination, considering these ideas are not currently taught to future teachers in school. I believe that every student should have an equal opportunity to learn in the classroom; therefore, I am an advocate of trying to incorporate activities that relate to everyone, and too, help different ethnicities learn of each other.

To top

Melanie Sauer

Response to article "Race, Retrenchment, and the Reform of School Mathematics"

After I read this article and thought about the unit of field study, I realized some things that might be important when planning a field trip for students. First, I realized that although the teacher may think one thing is the norm for all the students, the teacher could unintentionally be leaving one or more of the students out. For example, in the article the teacher used pumpkin pies in an addition problem to get the students in the mood for Thanksgiving. However, the African American student was not interested because that was not a Thanksgiving ritual of his family. So when you are planning an in class activity or and field experience it is important to try to relate the material to the class as a whole and not just the majority of the class. Although I also believe that sometimes, it may be hard to include every one of your students in an example. Sometimes students need to also realize that it is an example, and it does not necessarily pertain to all the studentsŐ lives. So when designing a unit of field study it is very important to make sure you can relate it to the lives of all the students. Because if the students cannot relate it to their lives they will often be bored during the experience or not even pay attention. The more a teacher can relate a lesson to the lives of the students the more responsive the students will be. However, what the article stressed was not to relate the lesson just to the majority of the students, include those students who may be considered a minority as well. Because that student in the corner may not hate math they just might not be able to relate to the lessons the teacher has planned.

This article talks about the aspect of community in CTL. One part of CTL is to relate lessons to the community. One class mentioned in the article showed a great CTL activity that they were doing in their math class. The students proposed a mathematically based economic incentive to get liquor stores to relocate away from the school. Here these students were "learning to use mathematics to support their political position." This is one aspect CTL stress the importance of to teacher. CTL believes that teachers should get to know the community in which they are teaching and the community their students are coming from. It is important to relate material to students lives out side of school, their community. This way students realize why it is important to learn the material and they can see directly how it will effect them. With the students I spoke about above, hopefully liquor stores will relocate and they will be able to see how math has directly effected their community and in turn effected their lives.

The main thing that stands out to me when I read this article as it relates to CTL, is that I want to be able to learn as much as I can about the community I teach in and where my students are coming from. This way I will be better able to relate material to my students and in turn, hopefully, teach them math in a way that they will enjoy the subject. I am a strong believer that if you relate information to the students lives out side of school they in turn will be more excited about learning the material and will remember it because it pertains to their own lives. Students have a hard time understanding why they need to learn certain things but when you can show them how they would use it outside of the classroom, they can see directly why they need or should learn that material.

To top

Rebecca Parker

Reflection on "Race, Retrenchment, and the Reform of the School Mathematics"


This article hits me in two ways. First, I agree that mathematics should be taught in a way that reaches your students on a cultural level. I think it is the responsibility of the teacher to get to know the interests, hobby’s and ideals of each student in order to relate mathematics to them in a meaningful way. As a teacher, we all go into the classroom with our own experiences and ways of doing things. It is a skilled teacher that can adapt to the needs of his or her students, in order to really help the students learn. The bottom line is that I want my students to learn the mathematics they need to get them into college, relate mathematics to their everyday lives, and have a respect for a subject that is so creatively intertwined. Letting the students discover different things about mathematics through the context of which they are more familiar helps increases the changes of the student being able to recall the information later, either for tests or in the real world.

Clearly, this article seemed hypocrite to me. The article puts down the ideas of going into the classroom with a white centric perspective. However, the author maybe ignoring the fact that many white people were raised around other people of color. Especially as the near teachers emerge on the forefront. The African American population may be a minorities, but the group as a whole is making a big wake in the social structure of schools. It would be very hard for someone to go through high school without realizing that there is cultural difference. It seems to me like these differences would be more noticeable in the classroom. However, it is up to the teacher to dig around for information regarding the livelihood of his/her students.

Why didn’t the author mention anything about the growing Hispanic, Asian, Indian, and native American population. This author lost a great deal of may attention an respect because his similarly disregarded the idea of these other groups. In turn, he seems to be ethnocentric himself. If you would like to point out a problem in the classroom, which so many of the articles that we read have, point out solutions or better ways to adapt a classroom to the changing cultures of the students. There are no rewards for predicting the flood, only for building the arc.

As far as our field study goes, since it is up in the air, I really do not know how to relate the article to it. I know that we were supposed to be planning a field trip for our class. There are three African American in our class. I think I know their interests, and I think that if we were allowed to pursue the idea of an astronomy field trip, I don’t think it would have been " a white or black thing." I think it would have been a way to relate mathematics to the real world experiences that we all have. The CTL ideas point out here is basically repeats of things I have heard and been convinced of before.

To top



The Department of Mathematics Education
University of Georgia