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?
Throughout my experience of learning mathematics, students including myself, had this overwhelming fear and anxiety while learning. My teacher considered mathematics as black or white meaning, you either understand the content or you don’t. This was demonstrated by whether you got the “right answer”. As I got into high school, my teacher would stress the importance of demonstrating your work in order to receive full marks. I understand that mathematics can be oppressive to students because often we are only shown a certain way to get to the answer expected of us. As I am now on the opposite side of understanding mathematics, I recognize that mathematics takes critical thinking and engagement. In mathematics we suppress diversity by only teaching one way of understanding, teaching in English language, and by relating “real life” mathematics to normative white societies.
Using Gale’s lecture and Poirier’s article, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purpose of mathematics and the way we learn it.
Throughout Gale’s lecture and Poirier’s article, it was apparent that Indigenous mathematics varies with Eurocentric ways of learning. This is demonstrated through:
- Oral numeration:
The language used in indigenous mathematics is verb based which describes what is visual to the student. Indigenous peoples developed a system for expressing numbers orally rather than in symbols.
2. Sense of Space:
The Indigenous peoples have developed a strong sense of space which aligns themselves. Indigenous peoples use their senses such as smell, to understand where things are located rather than just knowing where things are visually.
In mathematics Indigenous peoples use parts of the body such as their fingers or feet to measure rather than using a ruler or measuring tape.
I acknowledge Indigenous peoples have a strong sense of self and space which guides them to have a deep and authentic way of learning and doing. As teachers, we can incorporate Indigenous mathematics to introduce different perspectives and understandings.