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The Myth of the Gifted Child

Mathematics is a beautiful subject, with ideas and connections that can inspire all students. But too often
it is taught as a performance subject the role of which, for many, is to separate students into those with the
math gene and those without.

Disturbingly, mathematics has been pulled into a culture of performance and elitism in the United States, and I believe that to achieve higher and equitable outcomes we need to recognize the elitist role that mathematics often plays
in our society.

For mathematics can, on the one hand, be thought of as an incredible lens through which to view the
world; an important knowledge, available to all, that empowers young people to think quantitatively about
their work and lives and that is equitably available to all students through study and hard work. On the
other hand, mathematics can be thought of a subject that separates children into those who can and those
who cannot, and that is a valuable sorting mechanism, allowing people to label some children as smart and
others as not.

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