- 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?
I definitely think there were aspects of math that were oppressive. Looking back at my high school days in math class, there would be 1-3 different methods in solving one problem. In most cases, we got to choose the method that best suit our learning abilities. The next, we get a different teacher and they show us one way of solving. Someone questions using a different method and the teacher says no. To only use the method that was being taught. Now, I have learned from an early age that everyone has their own ways of learning, so why do teachers sometimes restrict that? In fact, I don’t really know the answer. It was definitely oppressive to those who did not understand this new concept, when they can figure it out another way that suits their needs. With certain equations, there may only be one way to answer, but when given a choice or when we know there are alternatives to answering a question, students should be given that opportunity. It is the teachers job to recognize their needs and do everything they can to help them achieve. If a student wants a challenge, or if the teacher thinks they should try, there is nothing wrong with challenging them for their benefits.
- After reading Poirier’s articles: 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.
Base 20 system: As mentioned in the article, “the numbers 20 and 400 are pivotal numbers, as other numbers are built from these two numbers” (p. 57). Imagine integrating this into our own math curriculum, confusing, right? It challenges the way we see math compared to other countries. Like how Inuit children learn to count in their language, until grade 3. The way they see math, makes sense in their world context, compared to European views, it’s about adding, subtracting, formulas and more.
Measuring: Their way of measuring is pretty cool. Instead of using rulers and tape measures, they use parts of their body. I think this ties in with commonsensical ideas of how to measure things. Since, the European way is, unfortunately, dominant, we use what they see as the normal.
Traditional Calendar: The Inuit’s traditional calendar is neither lunar or solar. Instead, it is based on “natural, independently reoccurring yearly events” (p. 61). Each name of the month comes from animal activity or from nature, for example:
Coldest of all months = January
When birds lay their eggs = June
When male caribou fight for a female = October
The length of the month depends on how long it takes for the natural event to occur.