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The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

Keynote speaker discusses math literacy for Black History Month

Zachary Styant-Browne
Principal consultant at Village Life Education Dr. Kirkwood speaks in the Recital Hall at Cosumnes River College on Feb. 13 for Black History Month. Dr. Kirkwood spoke with his son Malik Kirkwood about math literacy and its importance to students of color.

The Black History Month Committee at Cosumnes River College hosted a speaker on Tuesday discussing the importance of math literacy for students of color.

The event was led by speakers Dr. Kirk Kirkwood, a principal consultant at Village Life Education, and his son Malik Kirkwood.

Dr. Kirkwood opened his speech talking about the frustrations around math that many students have to deal with.

“We’ll often have math phobia, or math anxiety, or trauma in math settings,” Dr. Kirkwood said. “And so we’ve had critical conversations about what that looks like in this space.”

Dr. Kirkwood said to address this, students need to change their math identity, which he describes as an individual’s belief and confidence in their own abilities surrounding math. He said many of the contributions to math made throughout history have been from people of color. Something he said, isn’t recognized enough.

“Oftentimes, even in today’s society, folks are dismissive of the capacities of black folks in math settings.” Dr. Kirkwood said. “Little do they know that there is no math without black folk.”

Dr. Kirkwood said harmful racial stereotypes have been ingrained in younger people as well as the teachers themselves, creating a lack of confidence in math among many students. He said the solution is to make learning math more culturally relevant to black students, partly through educating students about its diverse history.

Malik discussed the importance of math in today’s world and how becoming more literate will help other areas of people’s lives.

“A lot of similarities and parallels are drawn between math literacy and financial literacy,” Malik said. “It’s important to develop healthy relationships with these concepts because they become your lifeline.”

After the speech, Kyle Cordova, a 32-year-old psychology major, said the speech was enlightening for him.

“I think society is kind of geared towards scaring people away from math, when they actually should be embracing it,” Cordova said.

Cordova said he was surprised by the prevalence of inequality in math classrooms that was discussed in Kirkwood’s speech.

“I think it was really eye opening to see that this is actually a much more common thing that’s happening in our society,” Cordova said.

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About the Contributor
Zachary Styant-Browne
Zachary Styant-Browne, Staff Writer
Zachary Styant-Browne is a Staff Writer for The Connection. He is 21-years-old and is majoring in journalism. He joined The Connection because he wanted to learn more about what the journalism process was like and improve his writing and interviewing abilities. After the newspaper, Zach would like to work in Radio production as a producer or writer. In his free time, he likes to hangout with his dog and see new things in the city.

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