Curriculum as Numeracy

In this week’s article, Leroy Little Bear writes, “storytelling is a very important part of the educational process. It is through stories that customs and values are taught and shared.”

I enjoyed this moment of Little Bear’s writing. I agree with this statement and look forward to incorporating stories in my future classroom.

The Inuit language is based on oral communication and is a very descriptive language. Inuit mathematics is different from Eurocentric mathematics, with each having different numbering systems. The most important numbers are 20 and 400, with other numbers being built from these. Another difference between Inuit and Eurocentric worldviews would be in defining space and directions. Eurocentric ways use routes, meters, kilometres, etc. to identify the area. An Inuit worldview can use the sense of smell or a description of a pile of rocks instead. Their space can depend on the seasons, the time of day, the temperature, and there is a precise vocabulary to describe the position. The Inuit will use their bodies to measure where Europeans will use a measuring tape to get an accurate measurement. The Inuit calendar uses events that need to take place within a specific period to measure time. In all these examples, language and math can be used, and based on life experiences and oral stories.

I can honestly say that math has always been my least favourite subject in school. I wouldn’t say that I am the worst math student, but I certainly would need extra time to learn all the concepts with a lot of time to practice. During my elementary school years, math was to be memorized more than understood. I failed in high school math class (mostly because we sat at circular tables and I faced the back of the room and hardly paid attention at the time), but when I retook the class, I did reasonably well. After taking Math A 30 (showing my age again), I did not take another math class until university.

As a future educator, I worry about teaching math to my students and finding ways to reach individual needs in the subject. My second worry would be my lack of confidence in the subject.

I believe that having the right teacher for math makes all the difference, in my experience at least. If you express your dislike of a subject in your classroom, that will affect your students and their motivation or mindset towards this subject. Before I enter the classroom myself as a teacher, I know I need to find a positive mindset towards mathematics.

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