In a totalitarian society, math is the last refuge of irresistible reality. When we find thinking like Krylenko’s not only in our history and English classrooms (wherein ideology can be easily adapted to the subject material) but in math class as well, we have reason to recoil at just how far and how deep the rot of ideological militancy has spread throughout our educational establishment.
The British author Douglas Murray has lately argued that intersectional social justice represents the most serious ideological threat to the liberal order since the end of the Cold War. Even a few years ago, his thesis would have sounded overblown, but no longer. Events have conspired to vindicate him.
Take the phenomenon of woke math, for instance. As Catherine Gewertz laid out in a piece for Education Week late last year, more and more teachers in K–12 classrooms are introducing left-wing intersectional agitprop into math lessons. Progressive talking points on subjects like policing patterns and campaign-finance reform are being used to supply students with numerical data that is then used to teach multiplication, division, algebra, and the like. Gewertz describes one such initiative, developed in Seattle, as attempting to supply “a framework . . . that weaves questions of power and oppression into math instruction, along with explorations of ethnic identity.”
This infiltration of leftist dogma into education is troubling for several reasons. First of all, it shows just how seriously intersectional social justice takes itself as a comprehensive agenda for social change. Totalitarian ideologies work by supplying an intellectual filter through which all of life is sanitized and presented to people as something uncomplicated and easily understood.