Math-a-POLKA: Mathematics—A Place Of Loving Kindness And . . .


Title of Special Issue: Math-a-POLKA: Mathematics—A Place Of Loving Kindness And . . .

Guest Editors: Steven Khan (University of Alberta) & Alayne Armstrong (University of Regina)

Twentieth century frameworks about the teaching, learning, knowing and doing of mathematics are giving way to emerging sensibilities seeded by a re-invigorated emphasis on human(e) values, grounded in intentional and explicit practices of mindfully curating attention (Acosta & Adamson, 2017), awareness and action with loving kindness. This mythopoetic work (Macdonald, 1981/1995) is emerging from the amplification of activities among popularizers, proselytizers and policy-makers, enabled by networked technology. One node, for example, is the invitation to re-imagine mathematics education as being for “flourishing” (Su, 2017).

Why Loving Kindness? Perhaps the ultimate love challenge is to extend toward the one who naturally provokes feelings antithetical to love, anxiety, and alienation. (Gleibberman, 2016) Loving Kindness, in its various interpretations and instantiations across traditions, shares what the editors believe is an explicit and active opposition to incarnations and material practices of human cruelty, violence, humiliation, shaming and brutality. Love and kindness can be learned (Centre for Healthy Minds & Healthy Minds Innovation, 2017; Lack, 1969) and practiced in mathematics at any level (e.g., Duval, 2017) and remain part of the ongoing dynamics of mathematics education (e.g., Ausman, 2018). Many educators have begun to work through traumas, violations, hate, pain, anger, loss and sadness in mathematics and are learning the necessary and difficult knowledge (Pitt & Britzman, 2003) of sharing with our communities. We are reminded that for some, including ourselves, the first and repeated act of kindness is to begin to love oneself as one is, wherever one is.

We see this invitation as an opportunity to begin to tell stories and to nurture new myths that heal in the disciplines, and in particular, the discipline of mathematics—the source of much pain, anxiety and unkindness. We appreciate the risk of sharing our vulnerabilities. We believe it is a risk worth taking in this moment as we seek to create more hospitable places of learning (Ellsworth, 2004) in mathematics. This special issue of JCACS aims to stimulate a generative and healing conversation by scholars who position their work in/across mathematics education, curriculum studies and allied fields. An intention of this special issue is to provide an opportunity to engage and connect with each other’s work so as to reduce “connection gaps” (Bruce et al., 2017) that limit language, discourse and imagination across scholarly communities of practice. We encourage thoughtful collaborations that bridge or transcend disciplines, and bring together practitioners working in different settings, to honour the gifts and responsibilities entailed in teaching, learning, knowing and doing mathematics with others.

Questions that could be used to think through responses include:

• How do you practice loving kindness in your mathematics teaching and learning?

• How has this practice emerged, developed and evolved?

• When is it hard/impossible to do so?

• When might loving kindness be inappropriate?

• How does loving kindness re-orient attention, awareness and action?

• What resistances arise?

• Do socio-material practices and movement (embodied) practices change?

• How do we know? Who does it change?

• What are some enabling curriculum structures and processes?

• What would a kinder math be like?

• Are there good examples?

• What are the limits of loving kindness?

• What do we yet need to know?


Proposal Submission Guidelines Prompt/Invitation: Taking a cue from Williams’ (1976/2014) keywords and Singh’s (2017) one-word chapter titles, we invite responders to begin by completing the sentence, "I imagine/want mathematics to be a place of loving kindness and . . . " with their own word, phrase or image. Responses should illustrate the relationship(s) between individual interpretations of loving kindness and individual or collective practices in mathematics teaching and learning at any level.

Formats for final submissions may include any of the current or emerging form(s) of scholarly communication such as (but not limited to) essay, academic paper, photo/video-graphy, poetry, twitter essay, memoir, narrative, research fiction, story, infographic, comic/graphic narrative, play, craft or making-based responses etc. Please submit abstracts or proposal descriptions of 250 words and a 50-word biography. While JCACS has its own style guide, please submit following APA 6 conventions, including Times New Roman 12, double-spaced. Please follow the APA referencing style closely. Submit to the "POLKA" submission section.


Proposal Deadline: January 14, 2019

Proposal Responses: January 31, 2019

Deadline for full articles: March 15, 2019

Anticipated Publication Date: Fall, 2019



Acosta, C., & Adamson, G. (2017). Curating attention: Interview with Glenn Adamson. True Living of Art and Design Magazine. Available at

Ausman, T. (2018). Contested subjectivities: Loving, hating, and learning mathematics (Unpublished doctoral Dissertation). University of Ottawa, ON. Available at

Bruce, C. D., Davis, B., Sinclair, N., McGarvey, L., Hallowell, D., Drefs, M., . . . Woolcott, G. (2017). Understanding gaps in research networks: Using "spatial reasoning" as a window into the importance of networked educational research. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 95(2), 143-161.

Centre for Healthy Minds (CFHM) & Healthy Minds Innovation (HMI). (2017). A mindfulness based kindness curriculum for pre-schoolers. University of Wisconsin Madison. Available through

Duval, A. (2018, February 19). Kindness in the mathematics classroom [Blog]. Available at Ellsworth, E. (2004). Places of learning. Media, Architecture, Pedagogy. New York, NY: Routledge.

Gleibberman, E. (2016). A curriculum of love. Tikkun, 31(4), 54-57.

Lack, C. A. (1969). Love as a basis for organizing curriculum. Educational Leadership, 693-701. Retrieved from

Macdonald, J. B. (1995). Theory, practice and the hermeneutic circle. In J. B. Macdonald (Ed.), Theory as a prayerful act: The collected essays of James B. Macdonald (pp. 173-186). New York, NY: Peter Lang. First published 1981.

Pitt, A., & Britzman, A. (2003). Speculations on qualities of difficult knowledge in teaching and learning: An experiment in psychoanalytic research. Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(6), 755-776.

Singh, S. (2017). Pi of life: Hidden happiness of mathematics. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield. Su, F. (2017, January 8). Mathematics for human flourishing [Blog]. Available at

Williams, R. (2014). Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. (First published 1976)