NCTM Releases Position Statement on the Intersection of Culture and Mathematics

  • May 20, 2024

    NCTM Releases Position Statement on the Intersection of Culture and Mathematics

    NCTM supports fostering students' positive mathematical identities by broadening the purpose of learning mathematics and implementing equitable mathematics instruction, so every student has access to relevant and high-quality mathematics education. Yet, the traditional instruction of school mathematics that continues to be taught in schools often results in students feeling a disconnect between themselves and the relevancy of mathematics to their daily lives. If we truly want to move towards mathematics being a vehicle for learning about and making sense of the world around us, we need to regularly and intentionally integrate more equity, justice, and culturally centered mathematics education in every one of our PK-12 mathematics lessons. As all learning is social, a part of making math accessible and equitable for all students involves creating, supporting, and sustaining a classroom culture that is responsive to students' backgrounds, experiences,
    cultural perspectives, traditions, and knowledge.

    In teaching and learning mathematics, we must move beyond surface-level activities for cultural explorations (e.g., student names, cultural food, and festivities) within mathematics curriculum and experiences. While such conversations are a start, they are not enough to authentically attend to and value teachers', students', and our communities' diverse cultures and identities. There must be intentionality in bridging the intersection of culture and mathematics to learn about and value students' and teachers' cultures as assets to teaching and learning mathematics, become more culturally conscious, and work to develop systemic changes that have long-lasting impacts.

    Accordingly, NCTM has released a position statement on the Intersection of Culture and Mathematics.

    Mathematics is a human endeavor and a creative pursuit to understand and actively engage in our world. To create humanizing experiences and maximize learning in the mathematics classroom, educators must regularly and intentionally integrate culturally centered mathematics in each and every one of our PK-12 mathematics classrooms.

    1. Mathematics is not culture neutral.
    2. Effective mathematics instruction leverages cultural knowledge and lived experiences as assets.
    3. Effective mathematics teachers are culturally conscious.
    4. Effective schools develop systemic approaches that embrace culturally relevant mathematics instruction. 

    Read the full position statement.  

    About NCTM Position Statements 
    NCTM position statements define a particular problem, issue, or need and describe its relevance to mathematics education. These statements address important and timely policy issues relevant to mathematics education. They rest on the foundation provided by Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, Principles to Actions and research, and address issues that extend beyond the classroom. Each one defines the Council's position or answers a question central to the issue. Position statements are approved by the NCTM Board of Directors.