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"Asked and Answered: Dialogues on Advocating for Students of Color in Mathematics" Book Review by Kate Degner

6 Aug 2021 2:31 PM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

I have recently read Asked and Answered: Dialogues on Advocating for Students of Color in Mathematics, by Drs. Pamela E. Harris and Aris Winger. I stumbled onto this resource through Harris and Winger’s podcast called Mathematically Uncensored. The book is a collection of 5 conversations around the topic of advocating for students of color in mathematics. The conversations (called dialogues) are:

Dialogue 1: An Introduction

Dialogue 2: Why Do You Want to Do This Work?

Dialogue 3: How Do I Even Start?

Dialogue 4: What Do I Do When....?

Dialogue 5: Who Do You Want to Be?

Harris and Winger (2020) wrote the book as the result of being asked the same questions over and over again during professional development workshops they lead on supporting students of color in the mathematical sciences.

Each dialogue begins with a handful (3 - 5) of pre-dialogue reflection questions. Readers are encouraged to use the space provided to physically write answers to the questions before moving on to read the dialogue. Similarly, at the end of each dialogue Harris and Winger ask post-dialogue reflection questions. In this way, this book is a resource not only of the expertise of Harris and Winger in mathematical spaces, but also a record of my own thoughts and reflections while working through this book. I hope to go back and read the book again (perhaps each summer?) and to use the pre- and post-reflection questions as a way to see my own evolution as a mathematics educator and advocate as well.

Many times throughout the book, the authors encourage you to stop reading and complete a task (google something, make a list, reflect on a particular experience), making this not just a resource to skim through and check off of your summer reading list, but a way to really reflect and grow as a human being and an educator.

Two things have stuck with me since I began reading the book. The first is a pre-dialogue question from Dialogue 2: “ Take account of your comfort. What mathematical spaces are you comfortable and uncomfortable in? How is this tied to your privileges and/or to the power you hold within those spaces?” (pg. 22) and the second is the central question for all teachers: “Who do you want to be?” (Dialogue 5).

The book is great reading for an individual, but I believe it would have a greater impact being read as part of a department or group of interested teachers. Many times I found myself wanting to ask questions relating my own experiences to the ideas addressed in the book. If anyone is interested in reading the book together please reach out via Twitter (@drkkdegner) or Instagram (@drdegnermath).

The book can be purchased on Amazon.

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