Mathematics Experience/ Inuit Mathematics

1. 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? (Oppressive: causing discomfort)

Thinking back to my math I find it hard to recall what elementary was like. However, high school I have some fond memories. In high school I found math very difficult compared to some and had to work hard for my marks. Whereas some students just got it naturally and had very few if any problems at all. One of the major difficulties was any work that we did inside of the textbook. You could say I was illiterate when it came to math. My number one problem no matter what unit was being taught was word problems. I always had a hard time understanding questions and picking out the important information. I remember I would always have to stay after class or go back during lunch and get assistance from my teacher. I know this was a regular occurrence during my entire high school education. Even before exams, I remember I would have to go in at lunch time for assistance and to study, while most of the other students would just come in during the class time, I write it without any problems. I know the marks that I received in my math class I really had to earn compared to other students. But I like to think the work ethic that developed surrounding math in high school has helped become a more diligent student today in my studying habits and has given me the motivation that I need to work harder in order to receive the grades that please me.
2. 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.

These three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it are all caught in the Inuit student’s language of Inuktitut.

– Counting: the systematic use of methods to compare and order sets of objects. The Inuit have a base-20 numeral system. Furthermore, words chosen to designate numbers may have an impact on Inuit students’ conception of certain numbers.
– Localization: the exploration one one’s spatial environment and the symbolization of that environment with the help of models, diagrams, drawings, words, or other means. The Inuit have developed an outstanding sense of space to help orient themselves.
– Measuring: the use of objects or measuring tools to quantify dimensions. There measuring and calendars are impacted by what occurs, such as for example, September occurs when the caribou loses their velvet on their antlers.

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