What's a math teacher to do?
The headlines this week have been about anti-vaxxers, climate deniers, partisan fighting, and a missing white woman. So many of the problems stem from a lack of critical thinking (about information, about race, about consequences ...) and critical thinking is what I'm supposed to be teaching! Except I'm not in the classroom this year, and the stuff I have typically taught has been so far removed from the lived experiences of my students, that I've been finding it difficult to even think about how I can have any impact. And while I've felt disconnected in the past, being a middle-aged, cis-gendered, white male, I really don't like this feeling of powerlessness.
I have been trying to keep up with reading articles and books and attending webinars about issues and practices around diversity and inclusion and about promoting student agency through instruction and assessment. At the moment, I'm feeling really overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of the information available and the apparent lack of effectiveness my learning is having on the world around me.
With so much information out there, why is it that states and school boards still think it's okay to bury uncomfortable truths? How come law enforcement can rally to find a missing white woman in a state where hundreds of indigenous women are unaccounted for? And what can be the motivation to avoid providing vaccines and other aid to communities and even countries who are struggling (often because of policies and actions of more powerful groups)?
Even as a middle-aged, cis-gendered, white male, brought up in a religious household, I know the answer to those questions. Too many people who look like me are too comfortable with their own power to look beyond themselves. And aside from trying to be aware of the impact I have on others and learning from my mistakes, I'm not sure at the moment what I can do.
My response today is to write about this. And try to figure out what else I can do.