Questions/Writing Prompts from Gale
1. 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 against you or other students?
Looking back to my mathematics experiences in schooling, I think there were lots of aspects that were oppressive and discrimination for myself and my fellow students. One thing I noticed in the reading was that a lot of indigenous knowledge and views about the world are not implemented in math. For example, the reading states that one has to look at the whole to begin to see patterns because everything is constantly moving and changing. However, when I think back to my mathematics in school, a lot of what we did was not focused on the larger patterns and relationships but rather everything being separate and containing one answer. Another oppressive teaching often used in mathematics is that indigenous language is often left out of the math class. For example, aboriginal language allows for the transcendence of boundaries so the language often does not contain either/or, black/white, etc. However, math language normally does include these binary ideas.
2. 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.
Ways in which Inuit math challenged Eurocentric ideas:
- Inuit math uses base 20 while euro math uses a base 10 system
- Inuit developed a sense of space to help orient themselves. Learned to read snow banks and assess the direction of winds.
- The calendar system is different. Each year a month can have a different amount of days (September- when the caribou’s antlers lose their velvet). The calendar is based on natural independently recurring events rather than being lunar or solar.