Updated: Jul 30, 2021
2020 has been a year like no other and now that the end of July is here, many of us are still wondering if and when things will go back to normal. Right now you might be trying to ease your child’s anxiety about the uncertainty of new school protocols, as well as having a new teacher, or how to play while staying at a safe distance. You might be wondering how you are supposed to once again handle your child’s schedule to make sure learning is happening on top of your own work schedule. Teachers, you might be nervous about returning to school in person and how to hold small group meetings with your students while also keeping everyone’s safety in mind or how best to create a schedule and use technology if you are online. I know that all of this has been weighing on my mind. Because in a few weeks, most children are going to be in some type of learning environment, even if it’s not something that we know as normal. But what does normal really mean and should we even want to return to it?
In episode 7, we start to explore this question.
The exact definition of normal means conforming to a standard. Given that, in some ways, I hope that we don’t return to normal.
Yes, I do wish for my family’s continued safety as well as your family’s, but I no longer want to accept an educational system that has a standard of marginalizing some children while lifting others into greater positions of privilege. Or a system where the standard is to value high-stakes testing over high-quality instruction. That’s a reality filled with inequities and injustices. That’s a reality where some children grow to dislike mathematics and never realize their full potential and where the standard says that it is okay to announce that “I’m not a math person”. It’s a reality where adults hold unproductive beliefs about how children learn and about who is capable of mathematics.
I strive for a new standard - where the reality is that children’s thoughts and opinions are valued and where mathematics is used not to separate but instead to help all children gain new perspectives of our world and to bring people closer together. Where “children’s abilities and dispositions toward mathematics are not [believed to be] fixed but [are known to be] shaped by their experiences (NCTM 2020, p.28).
I’ll put it like this -
In August, I hope we don’t choose to revert back to our previous “normal” where we might believe and say something unproductive such as “these kids are really low,” or “There’s a lot that they missed last Spring.”
Who will statements like these serve?
These “deficit-based descriptors” (Kobett and Karp 2020, p.5) only indicate what an adu