Indicator C.4.4. Understand Power and Privilege in the History of Mathematics Education
Well-prepared beginning teachers of mathematics understand the roles of power, privilege, and oppression in the history of mathematics education and are equipped to question existing educational systems that produce inequitable learning experiences and outcomes for students.
Schools do not exist in a vacuum; administrators and teachers implement policies and practices on the basis of the historical contexts of their schools. Therefore well-prepared beginners must be aware of the national, state, district, and school contexts for educating students and be ready to engage in conversations to address inequitable learning experiences. Well-prepared beginners are cognizant of national reform movements in mathematics education, including the strides and challenges in affording every student a quality mathematics education. For example, well-prepared beginners need to be familiar with current challenges in mathematics education; experts acknowledge that too many students who are Black, Latinx, American Indian, emergent multilingual students, or living in poverty are not being educated well in mathematics. Well-prepared beginners are abreast of professional standards documents such as the NCTM Standards (2000, 2014) and Common Core State Standards–Mathematics (CCSS–M) (NGA & CCSSO, 2010); they realize how these documents have evolved to include more (or less) attention to equitable teaching practices (e.g., principles, position statements). At the state and district levels, a well-prepared beginner seeks to learn about the demographic trends in their districts, segregation and re-segregation policies that result in unequal educational experiences, and the adoption of various textbook and instruction policies. By understanding the historical context of education, well-prepared beginners can learn from past successes and contribute to solving current challenges to advocate for students.
Well-prepared beginners not only know the historical context of mathematics education but also understand that mathematics operates with power and privilege in society. As such, well-prepared beginners are knowledgeable of mathematics education as part of a broader system of mechanisms used to determine what is valued, what is right, and what is normal in society (Valero, 2009). Although expert teachers of mathematics are well grounded in literature that presents strategies for transforming schooling for students who have historically been denied access to a quality mathematics education and implement these practices in their classrooms and schools (e.g., Berry, 2008; Gutstein, 2006; Leonard & Martin, 2013; Rodriguez & Kitchen, 2005), well-prepared beginners have read and know how to access such literature and recognize the importance of implementing practices to empower each and every student. They are prepared to ask questions as needed to understand current policies and practices and to raise awareness of potentially inequitable practices. These practices are particularly important related to students who are Black, Latinx, American Indian, emergent multilingual, or students living in poverty because they are overrepresented in classrooms in which skill-based instruction, worksheets, and computer programs are emphasized instead of problem-solving lessons and high-cognitive-demand tasks (Oakes, 2008). For example, well-prepared beginners might ask how students are recommended and placed in gifted and remedial/intervention programs, whether the placement of students across various programs is representative of the school population, who determines the type of instructional materials that are available to students to support their learning of rigorous mathematics, and how information regarding various mathematics programs is communicated to parents.