Differing Perspectives on Mathematics

Thinking back on my own schooling experience focusing on teaching and learning mathematics I would say that there were several aspects that were discriminating. I think one of the main ways that the teaching and learning of math in my own schooling experience was oppressive was the lack of holistic and cyclical worldviews. Students were taught in western ways that saw things as being linear, static and objective, there was only one right way to do something and only one right answer. In our classes, we never learned in a holistic or cyclical worldview that emphasized the connectedness of events.  Whenever indigenous worldviews were mentioned in our class it was from the textbook usually at the start of the chapter and for instance, it would be an activity with a word problem about a totem pole and that was the extent it was connected. I think that many of the students and teachers were frustrated and annoyed at this failed attempt to integrate Indigenous knowledge into multiple different subjects because it was just situations like the one mentioned before. I think many students and teachers believed that this was just something that had to be done, it was an obligation so that they could check the box that said yes, they were integrating indigenous knowledge into every subject. It was seen as just going through the motions without actually creating understanding, connections or being relevant.

Before reading the article “Jagged worldview colliding” I was unaware of the different ways that Indigenous people’s approach learning and understanding mathematics. For instance, they learn through storytelling and experience rather than through Eurocentric traditional ways of observation and direct instruction. In the article “Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community” Poirier explains how Inuit peoples “ do not perceive mathematics as something that can help them solve everyday problems” (p.55). Another key way that Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas are that “traditional Inuit teaching is based on observing an elder or listening to enigmas……and that traditionally they do not ask a student a question for which they think that student does not have the answer” (p.55). Inuit children also have the opportunity to learn mathematics in their first language Inuktitut. Grade three is the transition year for students where “75% of the time allowed for mathematics is spent teaching and learning in Inuktitut while the remaining 25% is in either French or English” (p.57).



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