Week 8: Mathematics in Schools

Throughout all of elementary school math was taught from a textbook called Math Makes Sense. Thinking back I remember most of the questions being based upon European examples of stories and European based children. The questions and the problems were very Eurocentric and were quite discriminatory against anyone that was not of European decent. I believe that it is extremely important for students to see themselves within the classroom and within the problems to ensure that they are feeling accepted and involved within the classroom and within their work. I also remember that the work we did was all using the textbook, paper, and a pencil which a very Eurocentric way of doing things. We did not have any real world examples or practice with doing math. As Leroy Little Bear states in his article “Jagged Worldviews Colliding”, “tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews.” (p. 77), my schooling upheld this belief by really only teaching the European ways and beliefs regarding mathematics. This would have been highly discriminatory against the many diverse cultures that were predominantly in my classes. We never learned other ways of doing math that would have been the ways that they would have learned in their own cultures.

After reading Poirier’s article, “Teaching Mathematics in the Inuit Community”, one of the main differences between Inuit based mathematics and Eurocentric based mathematics is how the Inuit cultures use base-20 system compared to the Eurocentric method which is the base-10 system which is more widely used around the world. The second major difference is that the Eurocentric method of learning is very much based upon writing, reading, and using paper and pens. Whereas the Inuit style of learning is orally, and learned from observing their elders and knowledge keepers. A lot of the Inuit learning stems from their environment and how they are connected to the earth. Finally, another main difference is that the Inuit people can learn in their mother tongue language up until the third grade. This would make learning much simpler for them, making it easier for them to succeed by having terms in their own language.

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