Mathematics

March 23rd, 2020

When I think back to my mathematics classes prom K-12, I do not have very many positive memories. I have never really liked math to start with, and the way that I was taught math during school only made things worse. In earlier grades, I was a good math student and found it satisfying to get questions right. Although there is a negative feelings in today’s world about mad minutes because of the anxiety it causes students, these were my favourite part about math. I enjoyed the simple equations that only took a second or two to complete. As I got older, math started becoming a process involving multiple steps to find an answer. This is where I began to struggle. I think my downfall came partially from my lack of patience, but in higher levels of math, I did not understand the content because many of my teachers only taught one way of finding an answer. Math was always conveyed to me by using one method that worked for my teacher, and I had difficulty with some units because I didn’t think the same way that he/she did. After I finished high school, I also realized that when I was younger, I wasn’t absorbing many of the math problems, I was just memorizing them. It was easy to memorize single digit times tables and not have to stress by brain at all to think of an answer. I didn’t have my own way of finding the answer, I just knew what the answer was by looking at the two numbers. In a way, I think that my “oppression” came in later years because a lot of my math teachers did not find alternative ways to teach the subject, and therefore more students had difficulty liking math or doing well in it. A lot of the content was rushed when it was being taught, but if the pace slowed down a bit more I believe I would have found math more interesting. 

Three ways in which Inuit Mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas of Mathematics:

  1. Language

Poirier states that Inuit children use Inuktitut, which is their first language, from kindergarten until grade 2. From grade 3 to the end of high school, they are taught mathematics in either English or French, and as of 2005 they are also taught in their own language as well. This is a very interesting dynamic to add to any subject because it would make it that much harder learning something in an unfamiliar language. 

2. Content

Inuit mathematics differs from Eurocentric mathematics because Eurocentric math emphasizes the importance of graphing, and solving equations. Inuit math focuses on culture, the environment, and language. 

3. Delivery of Content.

Many teaching methods in Inuit culture involve listening to elders and following their path, which is different from what I experienced as I learned from a Eurocentric viewpoint. Elders have a tremendous amount of respect in the Indigenous culture, and they gain a lot of their information from learning from ancestors. 

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