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Math teacher is placed on leave for wearing feather headdress and performing Native American dance

A California math teacher was placed on leave after she was filmed donning a feather headdress and doing a bizarre ‘Native American’ dance for her students. 

Footage of John W North High School math teacher Candice Reed wearing feathered headgear while chanting ‘SOH CAH TOA’ -a mnemonic for remembering the definitions of the trigonometric functions sine, cosine, and tangent- went viral this week. 

The Riverside Unified School District said it does not condone the teacher’s behavior and have placed Reed on leave while the district conducts an investigation into the incident. 

‘These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices,’ the district said in a statement to the community.

‘We are deeply committed to implementing inclusive practices and policies that honor the rich diversity of our district and the greater region. We will be working with our students, families, staff and community to regain your trust.’ 

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Footage of John W North High School math teacher Candice Reed donning feathered headgear while chanting ‘SOH CAH TOA’ has gone viral

Another clip shows Reed on top of her desk, legs crossed and arms outstretched praying 'please tell me the secret Indian (illegible) but they don't hear'

Another clip shows Reed on top of her desk, legs crossed and arms outstretched praying ‘please tell me the secret Indian (illegible) but they don’t hear’

The video was posted to Facebook on Wednesday by Shadae Johnson, a member of the Urban Indigenous Peoples Advisory Council Member in Vancouver. 

Johnson said the footage was filmed on Tuesday by a Native American student in Reed’s math class.  

According to Johnson, the student started recording after several minute’s of Reed ‘war hooping and tomahawk chopping’ because he ‘felt that violence was being committed against him and he had the right to record.’

It appears that Reed was using the dance to teach the students the trigonometric functions, which help solve almost any problem related to finding either a side length or angle measure of a right triangle.

Johnson attached footage of Reed doing the ‘tomahawk chop’ while chanting the math mnemonic in the front of the classroom.  

At one point Reed just screeches it while jumping up and down while waving her arms and then dramatically runs out of breath and rests her head on a wall. 

A projection of a stick figure with a feather headdress surrounded by two teepees can be seen on the white board behind her.  

In another recording of the lesson plan, Reed was captured jumping on a desk in the back of the classroom while a student hangs his head in embarrassment and other students look at each other awkwardly, clearly uncomfortable and confused at her behavior. 

Reed was even filmed jumping on a desk in the classroom while a student hangs his head in embarrassment

Reed was even filmed jumping on a desk in the classroom while a student hangs his head in embarrassment

After jumping off the desk she continues to shriek 'SOH CAH TOA' while hopping and running in an exaggerated manner

After jumping off the desk she continues to shriek ‘SOH CAH TOA’ while hopping and running in an exaggerated manner

 What is SOH CAH TOA?

‘SOHCAHTOA’ is a helpful mnemonic for remembering the definitions of the trigonometric functions.

Sine equals opposite over hypotenuse, cosine equals adjacent over hypotenuse, and tangent equals opposite over adjacent.

SOH: Sin(θ) = Opposite / Hypotenuse CAH: Cos(θ) = Adjacent / Hypotenuse TOA: Tan(θ) = Opposite / Adjacent

With these properties, you can solve almost any problem related to finding either a side length or angle measure of a right triangle.

After jumping off the desk she continues to shriek ‘SOH CAH TOA’ while hopping and running in an exaggerated manner to a silent classroom. 

Another clip shows her on top of her desk, legs crossed and arms outstretched praying ‘please tell me the secret Indian (illegible) but they don’t hear’ she then snickers, adding ‘because obviously this is ridiculous.’

She is then recorded going to the corner of the classroom and saying she ‘ran into the rock god’ while students can be heard groaning ‘oh my god’ 

Reed, clearly amused with her performance, laughs to herself as she lays the rocks out on her desk. 

Johnson said she hopes Reed is held accountable for her actions and included contact information for school officials in her post. 

‘I am sharing this video because these behaviours can no longer be swept under the rug!’ she wrote. 

‘We need to end discrimination and violence against indigenous youth in schools! We’re not in the 1960s any more, she should know better!’ Johnson added. 

According to a Twitter user who widely shared the video, Reed has been doing this lesson plan since at least 2012. 

The clip has caused outrage online, with many wondering what possible educational purpose Reed’s routine could have served for the students.

One person tweeted: ‘The worst thing is the teacher probably didn’t even think this was disrespectful or offensive. Completely oblivious as the kids watch, aghast and alarmed. Oblivious, as she grew up in a cultural bubble.’  

‘This is from Riverside, CA? I’m from there and Native from the Cahuilla Band of Indians,’ another person tweeted. ‘How is this happening when there are literally at least 10 Native tribes in the surrounding area. UCR (University of Ca Riverside) works with Natives in the are and she didn’t know??? Expressionless face.’  

Someone else tweeted: ‘As an educator, there is NO WAY that there is a justifiable reason for that.’


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