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?
Math was often taught by one method while I was still in school. This method was tested through quizzes and standardized testing which grouped students by “capability”. Students not doing well enough were often enforced to study and practice until they were at an “average” or high level. When students are grouped by measured skill it often creates a negative cycle. Students categorized as “below normal” have hurt confidence and self esteem. This can lead to a loss of interest in math or a self defeating attitude. Student are not only enforced to understand the logic behind math problems but also the language used in math. Language used in math is often sophisticated and dated, meaning inadvertently teacher evaluations discriminate against students who do not hear academic language at home. In turn, math is presented through a linear worldview and math is typically taught step by step in small sections and then shown as a big picture. If a FNMI approach was taken, it would likely be shown as a big picture first and each section would be described through its relationship with another section.
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.
1) Universal terms is a Eurocentric idea challenged by Inuit mathematics. Inuit mathematics is generally expressed orally whereas Eurocentric mathematics is mainly expressed in written form. This is why Inuit terms change in reference to context and spacial location. In learning Eurocentric mathematics, something as simple as “δ” can refer to several equations and measurement. This is not the case in Inuit mathematics because stating something like “delta temperature” would sound insane without a visual context. In Inuit mathematics terms need to be logical and related to things that are well known.
2) Another way Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric mathematics is in terms of measurements. Measurements of time such as months directly relate to common events. I found this incredibly useful considering if there is no access to a calendar you can get a time estimation by natural events. For example, if you see birds laying eggs you can determine it is roughly April.
3) In Eurocentric mathematics terms are often small descriptions to assist with diagrams. Things like linear, repeating, large/small, etc. In turn, terms used in Inuit mathematics often are the explanations. Terms and the use of suffixes provide visuals that explain whole diagrams. One word often will contain numerous descriptors; things like location, number of sides, amount, size.