equity Posts

Rewriting Our List of Mathematicians

When using Desmos activities, we want students to feel comfortable sharing their ideas with the teacher and the class. To support this, teachers can turn on anonymize mode swapping students’ names with the names of notable mathematicians.

Though our list of mathematician names was originally created for student safety, it is also a way we publicly amplify particular figures. By its nature, this list serves as a commentary on who is regarded as a mathematician. With that in mind, we recently inspected our list of names and chose to overhaul it. This blog post explains what prompted a change and how we crafted a new list.

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The Desmos Guide to Building Great (Digital) Math Activities v2.0

Desmos wants to help every student learn math and love learning math. To accomplish that goal, we build math activities for students, and we build them to the specifications in this document.

Our design code folds in our collective understanding of mathematics, identity, culture, curriculum, cognition, and pedagogy. Together, these ideas can increase the likelihood that a student will come to identify themselves as a “math person.”1

We intend this document to be descriptive of choices we have already made and prescriptive for choices we will make in the future. When we have doubts about our design decisions, we use this document to settle them. We share these principles publicly in case they’re of use to you and, especially, so you’ll hold us accountable if we fail to meet them.

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Announcing the Desmos Equity Principles

Our mission at Desmos is to help every student learn math and love learning math. We know that every student is capable of advanced mathematical thought regardless of their race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or other aspects of their identity. At the same time, we know that many math learners experience oppression both inside and outside of schools because of their identities.

We want our work to help address these unjust learning conditions. However, our efforts to date have lacked direction, coherence, and accountability, all of which has made it possible that we are harming students rather than helping.

As a start, we have created a set of Equity Principles.

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