A friend @doingmath asked (paraphrased some)
I am curious is about the part of the discussion from 1:08:00-1:13:00 in the video, when the discussant sets up the speaker, Dr. Munir Fasesh, to elaborate about the connections between mathematics, violence, and freedom...as well as some connections to Freire's work. He says (roughly):
"What I did not like about Freire's approach, is that he divided people into levels of consciousness. There are those that are more conscious and those who are less...and less...and less...
And the ones who are 'more' have to 'teach' the ones who are 'less.' Here, he is following the logic of education....
[Freire] changed not the logic, but the fact that he is now calling them more 'conscious' rather than more 'educated.' Dividing someone into expert or someone who is trained in the 'Freirean way' are allowed to really put people....to decide who is more conscious and who is not; Rather than to look at every person as uniquely complete.
Every person is like a seed. I cannot compare. Every seed has the potential to really grow and all we can do is to provide that seed with the right environment."
I take it you know my (post-)epistemological assumptions, but something about this perspective gives me pause any time I consider social perspectives. What are we to think when people hold worldviews that serve to perpetuate the marginalization of certain groups of people? Or that have implications for the sustainability of our planet? Should we really not acknowledge these perspectives as harmful? As "less conscious?"
What are your thoughts? What reactions did you have to Munir's plenary and ensuing line of questioning?My thoughts: The discussant, Dr. Julia Aguirre, asked roughly, "You make connections among mathematical knowledge, domination, freedom, and intelligence. Words that embody inequality are crucial [i.e. necessary] for domination, especially inequality in intelligence. Freire says knowledge is invented and reinvented through struggle. To prevent another from engaging in such inquiry is a form of violence; it is dehumanizing. Say a bit more about the interconnectedness of mathematics & these ideas."
P.S. The only resolution I can come to right now is a type of "intersubjectivity of ethics" where people, collectively, must decide what is right and wrong...what is ethical. But what happens if people can't agree? Multiple realities? But what if one or more of those realities are harmful to others?
Munir seemed to respond: Freire is my buddy, but I disagreed with some of his ideas -- he divided people into levels of consciousness. Those who are more conscious must teach those who are less. He only replaced educated with conscious; he was still dividing people. This division allows people to judge others, and rank by consciousness, rather than to look at every person and acknowledge that "every person is uniquely complete." Freire's language is propagated by mathematics, that people can always be placed on a line. "The worst inequality, that is the source of all inequalities, is believing that people are not equal in intelligence. And giving yourself the right to tell who is more intelligent than another: Arrogance."
The dilemma (paradox?) you seem to hit is certainly one I wrestle with. I wrestled more years ago, but am coming to decide there is no answer of the form with which I am used to finding answers.
My first thought is that the basic notion *is* or *to be* is a sort of paradox of ethics, or ethical behavior. It seems to send or establish an ethical message throughout maybe every human culture, what is this notion of (related to) existence?
Being raised catholic we were taught “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I think if each action one takes is guided by that principal, we would come to the same dilemma you have pointed to, how I myself cannot judge the ethics of another if I would not allow them to judge mine.
I don’t know much about ethics and morals, except that I suppose I have and practice my own. So, maybe the first part of my answer is that I am compelled to interact with people who hold worldviews that I consider dangerous / oppressive or simply disagree with, because I suspect that if enacted, such views would harm me and/or members of my family and community.
I wrote previously about another layer of ethics that I believe is baked into Radical Constructivism - that we need thriving (healthy, mindful, thoughtful) others different from ourselves in order for ourself to thrive.
Yet, I wouldn’t wish for that other person, with whom I disagree, to oppress me, shut down my opportunity to speak, thrive, live joyously, etc. -- So I cannot do the same to him.
NOW, a very different question; switch from the ease of pontification to the pragmatism of daily living. Does the above change in the context of your employment as a math coach. I think it does. I think you have now become not simply a single entity, but a member of a group, with its own moral code. You are now compelled to follow the moral code of this group (or resign). So, what is the moral code of the educators in your school district?
There is likely a moral code for what is valued as education within your district, maybe even one specifically written for mathematics. I suspect it is stated in such unmeaningful words that everyone nods agreement at the collections of words, yet there is minimal shared interpretation.
It would be nice to collectively identify/discuss this moral code, and from it define a vision for maths education in your district, and then a mission -- with specific, measurable statements. And assign a timeline. (i.e. a 5-year plan and how you will measure successes of it).
Now you will have a taken-as-shared (among district math teacher community) and public statement of morals, reflective of a collective ethics. Decisions should be judged against those morals.
I don’t know what more to say; I am stuck because what I have said once again seems very idealistic. But I think you and your colleagues within district leadership must have careful talks such as the one suggested above, and set a 5-year agenda, because it seems to me that a school district MUST have a collective moral that OPPOSES that of the status quo, the community majority. You also must broadcast this district moral code, in a well-marketed way--because it will be counter-cultural, against the status quo, not what the proletariat has been programmed to expect. Your challenge will be for parents to embrace the Deweyan notion that what is best for their kid is best for all kids:
What the best and wisest parent wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and left unchecked, destroys our democracy.
Any of those thoughts stick? sticky?
And you have a P.S. People will never agree -- the idea of “agree” is a falsehood. Yes, of course multiple realities. BUT, as a member of a social group, your school district, -- your administrator-level challenge is to monitor that level of agreement about the direction of the moral code. If the admin learn they have employees who bigots, they must act immediately to remove them from interacting with children. Same as if they learned they had an employee that was a sexual abuser. It is sad to me that that particular action has not been taken, and the bigotry is so normal that it is openly stated in emails and to my student teachers.