Bridging disciplines to build equity : interdisciplinary mathematics through the lens of critical multicultural education
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Critical theory has shown that the organization of knowledge, forms of transmission of knowledge, and the assessment of acquisition of knowledge are crucial factors in the reproduction of power relationships in society (Freire, 1970; Apple, 1980; McLaren, 1998; Sleeter and McLaren, 1995; Bigelow, 2002). Schooling in the United States has always been designed to benefit particular groups over others, with "race,"class, ethnicity, culture, language, religion and gender among the factors used to differentiate the education offered (Loewen,1995; Oakes, 2005; Watkins, 2001). I extend this framework by taking science and mathematics, which have more often than other disciplines been taken to be neutral, to explicitly be part of this tradition. Research shows that multicultural education usually fails to move beyond superficial levels of modification of the curriculum (Banks, 1995; Nieto, 1995; Lee, Menkart, and Okazawa-Rey, 1997; McLaren and Sleeter, 1995). I build on theories of critical multicultural education and on my own teaching of interdisciplinary courses to propose interdisciplinarity as an approach to science and, in particular, mathematics education as a process of simultaneously challenging biased constructions of disciplinary boundaries and of extending access to the power held by these disciplines. My approach is informed by Delpit's (1988; 1995) framework of codes of power and explicit acknowledgment of these codes as essential to equitable education.