Horizons Seminar: Rochelle Gutierrez - 9/20/19

Rochelle Gutiérrez

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


September 20, 2019
Foxboro Auditorium
(Lunch will be provided)


“Rehumanizing Mathematics: Why it Matters for Students and Society”


ABSTRACT: Much of the work around “equity” and “inclusion” in mathematics has been poorly defined (Gutiérrez, 2002) or is constantly shifting (NCTM, 2008). As such, we have produced a state of “tinkering” as opposed to real change (Gutiérrez, 2017). That is, our progress has often focused on, and ended with, closing the achievement gap or recruiting more diverse students into the mathematical sciences, but not trying to radically reimagine a mathematics that supports students, teachers, and members of society to thrive, something I refer to as Rehumanizing Mathematics.  Whereas Francis Su (2017) has identified a set of virtues in mathematics, my work identifies 8 areas upon which to focus in order to achieve those virtues. Rehumanizing Mathematics begins with 1) acknowledging some of the dehumanizing experiences in mathematics for students, teachers, and the public and 2) designs ways for people to be provided with windows and mirrors onto the world in order to relate to each other through mathematics with dignity and ethics.  This focus on Rehumanizing Mathematics allows us to think differently about student misconceptions, teachers as identity workers, the histories of mathematics, our bodies in relation to mathematics, the role of aesthetics, and why it is not just that diverse people need mathematics, but mathematics needs diverse people. In this talk, I explore with the audience ways that mathematics can feel dehumanizing as well as what knowledge bases, sensibilities, and forms of risk taking it will require from us as mathematicians (and mathematics educators) if we commit deeply to rehumanizing mathematics.


**Funded by the C. V. Starr Foundation Lectureship Fund.