Learning Sciences Lunch and Learn with Dr. Grace Chen, New York University: “Ethics and Embracing the Cruel Optimism of Equitable Mathematics”
Connect with colleagues during this in-person presentation at the GSE (Room 30).
Pizza will be provided! Can’t attend in person? Join us remotely via Zoom!
The marginalizing effects of mathematics education, particularly for students who are also marginalized by racism, poverty, and other intersecting forms of oppression, are well-documented. In response, many educators and researchers claim that it is mathematics teachers’ ethical responsibility to adopt equitable instructional practices. In this talk, I argue that equitable practices, which are often taken for granted in pursuit of more equitable mathematics educations, exist in relations of what Lauren Berlant calls cruel optimism: where what we are drawn to paradoxically makes it harder to achieve our desires. I examine the cruelty of three common “equitable” practices through a lens of relational ethics and suggest that we who are interested in justice might actively choose cruelty. I close by posing some methodological wonderings about how we might analytically understand relational ethics in a case of mathematics teacher learning about including excluded students in small group work.