Blog Post Week#10
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?
I stopped learning mathematics in Grade 12 – 1988. I have no recollection what aspects of it were oppressive and/or discriminating for others or myself. However, I will guess at what this question begs to hear … This article speaks to the need to recognize a different perspective. In particular, Indigenous ways of knowing are defined for four (4) pages, followed by 1 ½ pages of defining Eurocentric Western ways. The argument being that the Indigenous ways are intertwined, communal, truthful, subjective and more loving vs. the hard, static, linear, individual, objective ways of the Caucasian Western culture. Examples of these traits are provided. I found the article to have a high and mighty tone to it. Possibly most when the author stated, “This is why I have gone to considerable lengths to illustrate the worldview of Western Europeans, which is linear and singular, static, and objective.” A page and half? Regardless, it was certainly informative. I was reminded to continue considering others perspectives like common sense, professional upbringing, life experiences, etc.
I imagine within the walls of Clavet Composite School in the early 1980’s ~ I didn’t fall in love with math because it was boooooring. I assume, as Gail notes in her presentation, I was taught to get the results, not to love the process. Mostly, I didn’t care for the math teacher either – his delivery was dry, and boring. So the material must be. I don’t think this was oppressive or discriminating in terms of the perspective of the material. I’m sure I recognized that it was smart way to understand the world around me. Sadly, Mr. Trishchuk couldn’t turn an abstract subject into wonder for 12 – 17 year olds.
2. 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.
Poirier’s article states the following,
1. Inuit see numbers/symbols as having many definitions as they are based on the cyclical aspects of nature.
2. Inuit do not perceive mathematics as something that can help them solve everyday problems.
3. Inuit children develop spatial representations that are different from those of children who live in a city like Montreal.
4. Months are determined by the cycle/events of nature – such as when the ice breaks, when sea elephants rest on land or when two stars appear in the sky
Dr. Gale Russell
– base 20 explanation, and digits on hands and feet creation.
– curves are more understandable than lines to Inuit.
– Importance of Oral and storytelling lessons
– Importance of hands on learning.
– Quantity vs quality – bucket of potatoes.