At the beginning of the reading, Leroy Little Bear (2000) states that colonialism “tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. … Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination” (p. 77). 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?
My experience of oppressive mathematics was that in which it was all viewed from a Eurocentric and Westernized point of view. There was only one way of being taught math, and if you did not understand, you will struggle. However, I did not always struggle with mathematics. It wasn’t until around high school when math became difficult for me. This wasn’t necessarily based on the math itself, rather my experience with those who were teaching it. I experienced teachers who would quite visibly show their frustration with my lack of understanding and that lead to me stopping to pursue guidance and instruction to continue to learn. Since entering University of Regina, and Math101 being a required class for the program, I have “attempted” to take the class multiple times, but alas, I have dropped it 3 times within the first week because of fear of asking for help when I don’t understand. The professors have been kind thus far, but because of my experience, I am still wary of seeking help, especially in a subject that I feel I am completely inadequate.
Although there were all white, European settler students in my classes for majority of my academic career, we were never taught anything other than what has always been taught. As I stated in the previous paragraph, we did not learn math from any point of view other than that of our ancestors. Unfortunately that personally lead me to believe that, that was the only form of mathematics, which I have been awakened to the fact is not the case.
After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.
Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas of mathematics because their math is relevant to culture and environment. For example, (1)the base 20 system which refers to fingers and toes. They make it very clear that mathematics is tied to every other aspect of life, it is not just a singular topic or subject. (2)When the Inuit students are being taught, it is not the traditional pencil and paper, rather observation through elders and real world environment like land and spatial aspects in general. (3)For example, using their hands and palms to measure in length when making parkas. These three examples are quite different from the Eurocentric view of math, and when you look at the way the Inuit teach mathematics, it actually makes a lot more sense than that which I have grown up learning. It leaves me to wonder that if I were taught mathematics from another perspective, perhaps my understanding of it would be a lot different.