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Loving and Hating Mathematics by Reuben Hersh, Vera John-Steiner

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The Teaching of Mathematics:Fierce or Friendly?

How is mathematical practice shaped by the social context in which it takes place? How are mathematicians affected by the beliefs, biases, and values of the subculture in which they work and teach?

In the previous chapter we wrote about the impact of age and gender on the ways in which mathematicians develop and sustain their lives. We emphasized the importance of balance and social connections as sources of support when researchers face societal stereotypes. Some may even find in mathematics an escape from social challenges, from “everyday life, with its painful harshness and wretched dreariness, and from the fetters of one’s shifting desire.”1 But more often, one’s mathematical life is intimately ...

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