Part 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?
Part 2: After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric ideas about the purposes of mathematics and the way we learn it.
For as long as I can remember, my relationship with math has not been a healthy one. I avoid it in all ways, shapes and forms. I believe that I have these feelings because I was never a “good” math student. I needed examples and reasoning to understand what was happening thoroughly, and often, there was not enough time in the class to go over such steps. I have learned that my learning habits do not include strict memorization, I can remember concepts, ideas, theories, but not specific orders or formulas. This was and still is why I believe that grade school math and I did not blend and led to a lifelong resentment of the subject. This has proven to be problematic in my life. Given that math is all around us all the time, I am constantly battling with the anxiety that math gives me. That being said, I benefited from the presentation we had in class. I always knew I wasn’t the only one who felt like this, but it was never really talked about. I now know that I am a mathematical human being, we all are, just my way of doing it looks different than others.
After reading Poirier’s article, I believe that the Inuit way of teaching mathematics is beneficial to all people but especially helpful to learners like me. One traditional teaching method in the Inuit community that differs from the European way is teaching orally. Because knowledge is traditionally transferred orally, there are not mathematical symbols like European math has. After reading this article, it was apparent that European math vastly lacks a connection to the environment. I never had the education on the four directions or read the atmosphere’s forecast throughout all of my grade school years. These are basic skills that Inuit math covers and are essential to survival. In a less life and death scenario, but still helpful, European math does not recognize measurements by the length and width of our body parts. I believe this is because European math is absolute, and body parts are not all the same. The lack of variation in European math is why I think so many people struggle with it.