- Math and Human Flourishing
- White Math: 1 + 1 = 2
- Say No to the New Racist Math
Sergiu Klainerman was born to a Jewish family in Bucharest in 1950, in the impoverished Communist “prison state” that was Nicolae Ceaușescu’s Romania. After high school he studied Mathematics at the University of Bucharest. His circumstances and culture afforded little opportunity: he could hope for little more than being a cog in the industrial machinery that led to Romania’s political and economic disaster.
But at age 24 Sergiu escaped to the US and studied at New York University, receiving his PhD in Mathematics in 1978. Today Dr. Klainerman is the Higgins Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University where he has taught since 1987.
Sergiu found his life’s calling as a mathematician. In mathematics he discovered a profound beauty, a gateway into understanding the universe. Mathematics led to his freedom and escape from poverty and thus became the core of his own calling. At Common Sense with Bari Weiss, Sergiu writes:
Like children all over the world, I was attracted to mathematics because of its formal beauty, the elegance and precision of its arguments, and the unique sense of achievement I was able to get by finding the right answer to a difficult problem. Mathematics also granted me an escape from the intoxicating daily drum of party propaganda — a refuge from the crushing atmosphere of political and ideological conformity.
Klainerman loved math, not only as a pathway out of poverty to freedom; he recognized that the universe was intelligible. Finding truth in the solution to a math problem reveals beauty to the soul. After all, truth and beauty are conjoined twins. Truth is discovered, not linguistically created as argued by proponents of Critical Theory and Cultural Marxism. Truth is discoverable because we live in a universe God created and we are made in His image as creatures with intelligence.
No such thing as “white math”
Because the Creator God exists, the universe is comprehensible. The disciplines of math and science enable us to discover the language of creation and read God’s thoughts. Math is the language by which we read the universe. This is indeed a revolutionary understanding, especially in contrast with those who regard the universe as chaotic and capricious.
It is not too much to claim, as Klainerman has experienced, that math changes lives and lifts people out of poverty. Bari Weiss introduces us to Sergiu in her article “There Is No Such Thing as ‘White’ Math.”
Mathematics allowed a young Sergiu, who came of age in Ceausescu’s Romania, to escape to a world where right and wrong couldn’t be fudged, and, ultimately, to a life of freedom in the United States. Without math, his life quite literally would not have been possible.
She continues to make the link between math and lifting children—I would add nations—out of poverty.
… he explains how activists are destroying his discipline in the name of progress. Worse, they are robbing poor children of the opportunity to raise themselves up by mastering it — with untold effects on all of us.
Real math is a pathway to flourishing
Dr. Klainerman sees math as an equalizer: “Those from socioeconomically disadvantaged families had a chance to compete on equal footing with those from privileged ones.” Yes, like all good education, mathematics allows children in poverty to compete in the real world, to discover the language of creation and the secrets of the universe. Sergiu testifies,
It is precisely this universality of math — together with the extraordinary ability of American universities to reward hard work and talent — that allowed me, and so many other young scientists and mathematicians, to come to this country and achieve success beyond our wildest dreams. …
Those born in poor, uneducated families have clear educational disadvantages relative to others. But mathematics can act as a powerful equalizer. Through its set of well-defined, culturally unbiased, unambiguous set of rules, mathematics gives smart kids the potential to be, at least in this respect, on equal footing with all others. They can stand out by simply finding the right answers to questions with objective results.
Because mathematics provided him a pathway out of poverty into freedom and flourishing, Dr. Klainerman is sounding the alarm about the ideologically driven Equitable Math.
- Darrow Miller
… to be continued
Mathematics, and education in its entirety, is a vital part of the life God intends for humans. Read more about that in a just-released book by Darrow Miller and a team of exceptional writers in the field of education: Don’t Let Schooling Stand In the Way of Education: A Biblical Response To the Crises In Public Education.
Ana RoncalJune 10, 2021 - 8:41 am
This is beautiful, thanks!