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The Death of Mathematics: A Mythopoetic Inquiry


Darcy James W House

A research paper submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Education

Department of Secondary Education

University of Alberta

© Darcy James W House, 2023


This paper challenges the deeply entrenched, self-replicating nature of mathematics educators, leveraging the groundbreaking and paradigm-shifting works of Wynter’s (2015) Autopoetic Turn / Overturn and Doll’s (2017) Mythopoetics of Currere. Through a deeply immersive analysis, this piece vividly captures the lived experiences of individuals who have faced countless struggles within mathematics classrooms, compelling mathematics educators to examine and confront the pressing issues within their own pedagogies. The examination is structured into two essential parts: firstly, an unflinching witness to the systemic violence and harm that pervades mathematics classrooms, and secondly, a call to action for mathematics educators to confront and address the structural violence that persists within their own classrooms.

This paper’s unique contribution lies in its incorporation of the story of Wisahkecahk and the Birch Trees, shared by Cree knowledge keeper Solomon Ratt (Ogg, 2021). The wisdom found in this story of Wisahkecahk guides educators in their journey towards reinvention as they process their own anger and frustration when confronted with the harms resulting from their current pedagogies. It offers a supportive space for readers to acknowledge the harm normalized by the professed ‘normal’ human who encourages the continuation of harm-imposing actions. As an impetus for mathematics educators, it encourages them to listen to critical encounters shared by students who have experienced violence as a result of their instructors’ pedagogies. Furthermore, it serves as a source of encouragement for those who have had little success in addressing personal and systemic harms, emphasizing the inevitability of failure as a natural part of the journey towards creating meaningful change.

Keywords: currere, mythopoetics, mathematics, mathematics education, pedagogy, systemic violence, Wisahkecahk