We Teach More Than Mathematics

  • By Matt Larson, NCTM President
    December 1, 2016

    Recent events in our country have presented educators with challenges that are new to many of us. As mathematics educators we are not immune to the current political climate and emotionally charged environments. In recent weeks I have had some mathematics educators tell me that the political events in our country have no impact on their work as mathematics teachers because “they teach mathematics.” 

    While the subject we teach is mathematics, we need to always remember that we teach mathematics to students. And our students’ success in the classroom is dependent on our ability as teachers to create an emotionally safe and welcoming classroom environment for each and every one of our students, regardless of their background.

    Several organizations have recently called for a reaffirming of the “ inclusive values that are the foundation of healthy learning cultures.” Some organizations, including TODOS: Mathematics for All and the American Educational Research Association (AERA) have released specific statements in support of each and every student and against acts that intimidate, harass, or restrict student opportunity. NCTM joins TODOS and AERA in these reaffirmations and calls to action.

    As educators we need to simultaneously maintain our commitment to democratic principles and our role in the democratic process, including the constructive and inclusive exchange of differing points of view, while simultaneously always standing against any act by anyone that threatens the well being of students. I encourage you to refer, reflect, and discuss with one another the statements of professional organizations referenced in this post. As Diane Kinch, the president of TODOS recently wrote, as mathematics educators we must “continue to stand by our students and their families, advocate for them, and work in any way possible to ensure and affirm their futures.” 

    We owe this not only to our students, but also to the society we wish to inhabit in the future.