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?
From what I recall about my mathematics involvement is that if I didn’t have the right response for a question, I would refrain from replying because I did not want to be incorrect in front of my whole class. This is partially because I didn’t have enough confidence and was concerned what people thought about me and how the teacher would respond (usually would get flustered when the question was answered wrong or would keep bugging me all class to answer math problems). With 30 classmates in my math class, it gave me anxiety which lead to me to panic and get the wrong answer. What I observed in these classes, the teachers tend to single out some of the students that were not rather confident in their math skills. To me this is very biased, because people learn at different speeds and comprehend concepts in different ways. I notice some students were never asked to respond to some questions because the educator assumed that they wouldn’t have the correct answer based on past classes. This did not help those students to learn and be engaged in the classroom because they would remove themselves from the learning process since they were never called upon to reply. It was like they were practically forgotten about, and the students who were following and answering questions were always called upon.
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.
In Poirier’s article it states that, “through his work, he came to realize that six different domains of mathematical activity are found in all cultures” (Teaching Mathematics and the Inuit Community, pg. 56). He also says that even though there are six key domains of teaching mathematics, they are all educated in different ways dependent not the cultures that they are taught in. Inuit people live a diverse lifestyle than we do because of the area that they reside in and the variances in culture. Mathematics is taught based on their life and language which makes sense because it would benefit them more than the Eurocentric purposes of math. When the Inuit discussed math, they count in their own linguistic up until grade three where it is switched to 75% counting in Inuktitut and 25% counting in French/English. This increases the question of are they learning the same numbers in both languages since the Inuktitut language is way different than the French or English. The Inuit similarly learn through sense of space since they are living in the cold for the greatest almost all the time. They also learn to measure differently. An example would be when September comes, that is known as when the caribou shed their antlers. These ideas challenge the Eurocentric way of learning and education because everything is measured, counted, and spoken differently when it is dependent on each culture. It is significant for us to include Inuit culture into our curriculum so that these students can understand all aspects of a culture to increase cultural understanding and to embrace it.