Culture change, bicycles and math

Posted on October 12, 2014

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This post : http://teachingmathculture.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/beyond-beliefs-in-teacher-learning/ describes the importance of cultural context in “motivating behavior,” … relating to behaviors with math.
I don’t really know what he’s talking about as far as discussions of teacher beliefs. In my culture, I don’t think I’ve ever discussed “teacher beliefs.” (This prob’ly has a lot to do with being ‘staff,’ not faculty; my culture context has limited associations with other people who teach math.)
The blog compares bicycle commuting’s cultural context here and in Amsterdam and the idea that you don’t need special ‘beliefs’ to be a bike commuter in Amsterdam, but it is something people assume comes with your package if you’re a bike commuter in the U.S.
So… as a bike commuter in the U.S. this has me thinking. What are the parallels?
Individually… I’ll save that. How ’bout, though, the desire of lots of bike commuters to shift the culture so that we have a better chance of survival? No, I’m not going to tirade about how nobody’s been killed by the lack of good math infrastructure… but oh, my, do we have ***crappy*** math infrastructure.
Is there an equivalent to “Get on the sidewalk!” — especially by people like the well meaning lady waiting for a bus last week? Non-cyclists so often have their own strong beliefs about what’s best, tho’ the statistics and reality say otherwise. It *is* a tad counterintuitive that it’s safer for me to be out in the lane, out in the street – but ****if**** you’re willing to think it through, every cross street puts me in danger; I’m invisible hugging the curb.
Hmmm… is there a parallel to having no place to park?
There’s definitely a strong parallel from people who assume it Takes Something/Someone REally Special to Ride A Bike OMG OMG Six and a half MILES!!! to work. I know people hold “math people” in that same “special breed” light…
So, we have been working on culture change here for … decades. What has worked? Hmmm…

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Posted in: math, math education