It’s tactless, but funny in a way, too. I mean, you have to wonder what was going through the math teacher’s head when he looked at this picture and said, that’s perfect for my pre-algebra students. A surprised black man missing teeth. What a great idea…
I’m assuming the mother of the only black kid in this class is the one who took her complaint to the newspaper, because what her son really needs is more recognition. Anyone in that school will have heard about this anyway and if they hadn’t, the paper fills in the details.
School district spokeswoman Karen Smith said the math teacher, Matthew Curran, frequently uses photos and other illustrations on his work sheets to engage the students.
Curran reported, through Smith, that he found the image by doing a Google Images search for the phrase “multiply and divide.”
“I chose it because it said ‘no way,’ which is a comment my students make when I require them to show each calculation,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I had no idea that I might offend anyone. I am very sorry for any distress that this has caused my students and the community.”
The boy’s mother said she spent much of the weekend angry and in tears.
“It’s very stressful to be an African-American in the community and you want to fit in and you want to embrace all of the things Central Bucks offers you,” she said. “Who’s protecting us here?”
Why didn’t the teacher take a few minutes with some other photo of a shocked looking cat or something and do the same?
(via AP in a roundabout way) I’ll admit that took more than a few minutes. But still. Cute or what?
Monday night, after meeting with the boy’s family, NAACP Bucks County President John Jordan issued a written statement denouncing the events.
“It brings into question whether all of our children are being provided a safe and fair environment in which to learn. What happened here is unacceptable, and we will take steps to make sure it never happens again.”
NAACP Bucks County Executive Committee members plan to meet with the principal and the teacher involved in the incident at Lenape Middle School “in hopes of amicably resolving the issue,” the statement went on to say.
When the assignment was handed out to the class, several students expressed their disapproval of the picture, according to the NAACP. But the teacher told them to do the work anyway, according to the boy’s mother.
So what, putting a white hillbilly missing a few teeth of his own would have been better? Stereotypes are stereotypes and a teacher should know well enough to avoid them, including the stereotype that math is problematic..er, too hard for people to understand.
So, I’ll end with a quote that teacher could have considered instead of that crazy ass picture:
The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple. — S. Gudder