When thinking back to both teaching and learning math, I am able to say I had a positive experience and was successful. However, there were times where there was oppressive or discriminating experiences for other students. Leroy Little Bear’s article states that, “Any individual within a culture is going to have his or her own personal interpretation of the collective cultural code; however, the individual’s worldview has its roots in the culture – that is, in the society’s shared philosophy, values, and customs. If we are to understand why Aboriginal and Eurocentric worldviews clash, we need to understand how the philosophy, values, and customs of Aboriginal cultures differ from those of Eurocentric cultures. Understanding the differences in worldviews, in turn, gives us a starting point for understanding the paradoxes that colonialism poses for social control”.
This means, regardless of our own individual background, we must open up our world view to those of others. This reminds me of talk Gale Russell’s gave to our class today when she identified that there is different ways of interpreting the world, this includes mathematics. With that being said, Gale explained that we are all math people but math is not universal. This means we need to think of the ways in which we are teaching mathematics so that there is not just a singular answer or way of doing things, but rather multiple ways that are anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory.
After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, there are at least three ways that mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas and purposes in regards to the way math is taught and learned. Firstly, the base system. We that use a western style of mathematics use a base ten system. Whereas some communities use a base twenty. This presents a challenge to those learning math because the system of counting conflicts with each other. Secondly, language can be a challenge. For example, there are numbers but each are given different meanings. As Gale pointed out this may be challenging because when saying a number there may be three different ways of saying that number, it all depends on context. It would be especially challenging for anyone who wouldn’t know the language. Thirdly, that Inuk mathematics is traditionally passed on orally, where as a more western view of mathematics is written down to be documented or transcribed.
Gales included this chart in her lecture. I thought it was very interesting to see the similarities and differences that lie in these valued ways of knowing. Definitely some food for thought! Thanks Gale!