Teaching Mathematics

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?

It is true that colonialism tries to maintain a singular order by means of force and law. This results in the suppression of the diversity of human views. Within the article, the Aboriginal point of view states that “law is culture”. This is the culture that is being stripped away with the existence of colonialism. Within my experiences of the teaching of mathematics I now realize the amount of oppressiveness there was. It was oppressive for one because of the fact that math class for us was listening and watching the teacher at the front of the class for 30 minutes, then doing textbook questions for the remaining 30 minutes of class. This was typically how it was throughout my high school experience and never really got interactive. It was all about number crunching and practicing to understand different math concepts. Many people learn differently and it is evident through studies. There are students who prefer a more activity based class where they can move around and actually experiment. People who cannot learn math the way almost every school teaches are singled out and are led to believe that they aren’t competent at mathematics.

After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric

One way that the Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric way of teaching is that they use traditional Inuit teaching that is based on observing and elder or listening to enigmas. They allow these enigmas to be clues for problem solving in mathematics. This allows them to become more active and interactive within the classroom for it is more involved within their culture. They are also being taught by an elder who tie their culture within their teachings. This allows them to be more diverse in their ways of teaching in comparison to the Eurocentric way of teaching.

Another way the Inuit challenge the Eurocentric way of teaching is through their many representations of mathematical concepts. In figure 2, it requires students to represent the number 3 in six different ways. This allows the students to conceptualize and interpret the number 3 in six different ways. This helps them if they cannot realize it another way, they can reference it another way. This can be applied throughout all levels of schooling. Within my school, we were very limited of different perspectives. We would usually be given one (rarely two) ways to solve a problem and we’d have to do with it.

The final way I found that the Inuit teaching system challenges Eurocentric ones is that their teachings are taught in different languages. They speak Inuktitut, but are given the option to learn French and English once they reach grade 3. This enables them to learn and develop their language as they learn mathematics. This allows them to think more critically and try to apply different languages within their teachings.

One thought on “Teaching Mathematics

  1. During my school career from Kindergarten to Grade 12, mathematics for me was very much in relation to your experience. We were also giving the teacher our attention for majority of the math class, which some of us struggled with, especially the hands on learners. Personally I would have benefitted from learning in multiple perspectives rather than just the one example the teacher believed would be best fit for the class. It seems as thought mathematics for the Inuits came from more diverse was of knowing and teachers, incorporating different ways to learn and grow as students. When you become an educator, how will you incorporate ways of knowing into your classroom environment?

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