Farewell to Steven Khan

It is with mixed emotions that the Department of Elementary Education says farewell to our colleague Dr. Steven Khan. Steven has accepted a tenure-track position at Brock University, starting July 1, 2020.

02 June 2020

It is with mixed emotions that the Department of Elementary Education says farewell to our colleague Dr. Steven Khan. Steven has accepted a tenure-track position at Brock University, starting July 1, 2020. While we cheer on his future success, we know we will miss his presence and contributions to our campus community.

Steven joined the department in 2017 focusing on math education and computational thinking. Through teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, Steven pushed his students to rethink mathematics through a decolonial and holistic lens as opposed to straight number-crunching. He also brought his dry sense of humour to the classroom, disarming the stereotype of math being a stressful subject for students.

Outside of teaching, Steven was an active participant in the department, serving on the Social and Benevolence committee and collaborating with his colleagues in expansive and interdisciplinary research. In particular, he was involved as a co-researcher in two research groups: Growing Faculty, Staff, and Student Foundational Knowledge of Indigenous Philosophies, Epistemologies, Ontologies, and Pedagogies with colleagues in Elementary Education, and Anti-Oppressive and Social Justice Education for the Public Good with colleagues across the Faculty of Education. Steven’s commitment to anti-racist and Indigenous education, as well as kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness came through all of his work.

Not only did Steven have a significant scholarly impact at UAlberta, he also had a personal impact on department members. Here’s a small sample of the collegiality Steven shared with us:

I am grateful for the many ways that Dr. Khan has contributed to the Department over the past three years. He is a caring, thoughtful, and collaborative colleague who continually seeks new and innovative approaches to his teaching and scholarship. For example, in his teaching Dr. Khan sought to empower future teachers by engaging them in reviewing, remixing, and creating their own Open Educational Resources. His scholarship also expands our thinking about the role of mathematics learning to support the flourishing of students, communities, and the world as a whole. I wish him all the best in his new position at Brock University.

Jerine Pegg, Chair of Elementary Education

Steven Khan with Mijung Kim and Maryanne Doherty

Did you hear about the mathematician who’s afraid of negative numbers? He’ll stop at nothing to avoid them. One thing I will really miss is Steven’s math puns in the lunchroom. In coming to know Steven through my work as the Undergraduate Program Administrator for Elementary Education Steven has a big heart and is very dedicated to his students in the undergraduate and graduate programs. It was a pleasure getting to know him and his family and in the last year sharing dog photos and dog stories. I wish Steven and his family all the best back in Ontario.

Erika Therriault, Undergraduate Program Administrator of Elementary Education

I have deeply appreciated getting to know Steven - and all of the ways he has supported me in my duration of working as a graduate research and teaching assistant. It has been a great pleasure learning, sharing, and co-writing alongside Steven in his courses on multispecies flourishing in Mathematics education and many other professional landscapes. I’ve so admired Steven’s supportive attitude and the professionalism he has shared with his students, colleagues, and myself. Steven was always very respectful of diverse ways of knowing, even from a “non-Maths person” like me, not only as a way to learn but also as a way of life for so many of us. He has helped me flourish in working and living, which inspires me to take the courage in future professional landscapes. I congratulate Steven for his new position and I wish to continue learning more with him in the coming years.

Hang Thi Thuy Tran, doctoral student in Elementary Education

Steven Khan

When I heard from Steven that he was departing to take a position at Brock University, I was happy for him and his family, but sad for our faculty. Steven is quite a unique thinker among folks in the faculty. The research and theoretical questions he is concerned with are those that challenge and open educators to other ways of thinking about, seeing, and being in the world. The ideas he works with, and many of the things I have seen him comment on and share on social media, are some of the most challenging questions being dealt with at our current moment of global social and environmental crisis (and now the COVID-19 pandemic). His departure will leave a gaping hole in our curriculum in terms of the ideas to which we can expose our students. I had also looked forward to sitting with him and sharing a coffee to discuss and exchange ideas over the coming years. Sadly, this will not happen. Steven, I wish you and your family a smooth transition to your new place of work and I know you will continue to impact those around you in significant ways.

Alexandre Da Costa, Associate Professor in Educational Policy Studies

Steven has been a wonderful addition to our math education group and department, and it has been a privilege to work with him over the past three years. I have deeply appreciated his commitment to our community and contributions to enhance our collective work in teacher education.

Our ninth-floor community have been beneficiaries of Steven’s care and interest in others, both professionally and personally. With Steven’s open door right across from the elevators, he always welcomed anyone who arrived on the floor into a conversation. While I’m confident we’ll continue these conversations across provinces, I will miss the informal and spontaneous chats. Often stories of our children’s antics led to laughter, especially when his daughter came up with an ingenious strategy to win against Papa in a board game. With equal intensity, our deliberations around pedagogic and scholarly ideas led to expanding awareness for improving students’ learning from kindergarten to post-secondary. In each of these conversations, Steven embodied a stance of “serious play” that was educative and delightful.

Steven Khan

Steven’s quiet leadership in our math ed group extended past visible responsibilities like leading subject area committee meetings, and were most clearly demonstrated in his modeling. Involvement in projects investigating incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing into math education and his commitment to reconciliation led to sharing moments of how that looked in his own undergraduate teaching by organizing classes around the Seven Grandfather Teachings. Steven’s scholarship and curation of resources is impressive, and many of us have been recipients of his suggestions for pieces that extend our interests and expand our thinking. Perhaps it is on this last idea – expanding our thinking through exploring possibilities – that has been most impactful. His continual encouragement to imagine “outside the box” is grounded in deep intentionality to ensure imagined possibilities lead to meaningful decisions that benefit each person and the community simultaneously.

I’m grateful that Steven joined us for the past three years and know that his contributions to our community will continue to inhabit our spaces and that we will continue to find spaces of intersection to continue collaborative work!

Janelle McFeetors, Associate Professor in Elementary Education

We're going to miss you, Steven! You'll always have a place to call home with your friends in the Faculty of Education.