Math Challenges Response

At the beginning of the reading, Leroy Little Bear (2000) states that colonialism “tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. … Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination” (p. 77). Think back on your experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics — were there aspects of it that were oppressive and/or discriminating for you or other students?

Thinking about my past math experiences, I never really thought about math as being discriminatory. However, now that I am in university and have been introduced to differences and oppression in the classroom I have found that it could have very much been taught and thought of as discriminatory. This subject could be seen in many different ways. A main way that sticks out to me is that math is either right or wrong. It does not really allow for mistakes. Many students (including myself) throughout my grade school years struggled with mathematics.  I have come to realise that it is not a very ‘forgiving’ class and that you either know it or you don’t. It doesn’t take into account people who may struggle, or take longer to understand the concepts. I also noticed that my teachers would just assume that we learned things prior to the class and understood them so we didn’t have to go over those concepts again. I know personally, for me, I would have benefited a lot for just a quick review over concepts learned previously.

After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.

Throughout this reading, there are many ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about mathematics. A few ways that stuck out me in this reading are:

  • Their ways of counting compared to ours

The Inuit people way of counting is a little different than our. They go by base 20s where we count by base 10s. Their way is also only oral where as we use oral and written ways to understand and elaborate the information we are using/learning.

  • The way the Inuit measure certain things

How Inuit people first started to measure things was with their bodies. They did not have measuring units and they weren’t very reliable. Some Inuit people still use this method of measuring today even though better measuring scales have been developed and introduced to them.

  • There language ability and variation of words

As stated in out reading; “Inuktitut uses 3 vowels and 14 consonants. As for its syntactic construction, Inuktitut is a suffix-driven language”(pg.62). By having a limited vocabulary like this, it would make it harder to reason problems as the Eurocentric people did. They would potentially not know what the words are or even mean so that challenges the Eurocentric idea/ purpose of math as they cant understand it fully.

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