Understanding Numeracy

Growing up in a very Eurocentric country, it is hard to point out aspects of mathematics schooling in the Philippines that were oppressive and discriminating against me or others. Personally, this isn’t easy to see growing up when mathematics was taught in English starting from kindergarten. Mathematics teachers and students, both in Canada and the Philippines, were all supportive of each other. Three countries colonized the Philippines. By the time I started my schooling, everything was taught in English. I also have no prior knowledge of native Filipinos and their way of life since it is not taught. It is hard to say I felt oppressed since history is unprepared and refuses to be led by the education system.

Inuit mathematics has a unique way of teaching and learning mathematics which challenge Eurocentric Ideas about the purpose of mathematics. One aspect is learning mathematics in the Inuit language, starting from 1st grade up to 3rd grade. This allows Inuit students to learn mathematics from a different worldview aside from the Eurocentric view. This also encourages students to be more connected with their language. Even though mathematics is often deemed the universal language, different cultures have different tools for teaching and learning mathematics. Inuit mathematics is no exception. In addition, Inuit mathematics is practical in applying mathematics to their natural world/surroundings and spatial relations. For instance, Inuit counting highlights the connection of numbers to the objects they are counting.

On the contrary, the Eurocentric idea teaches students about counting unrealistic amounts of objects like “36 watermelons” for the sake of problem-solving. Furthermore, they apply mathematics practically rather than sitting down and memorizing formulas that are difficult to use in real life. Lastly, Inuit mathematics, in terms of problem-solving, is taught by “observing an Elder or listening to enigmas” (Poirier, 2007, pg. 55). This allows for a more collaborative and contextualized approach to learning, where mathematical concepts are intertwined with cultural practices and language. By contrast, Eurocentric mathematics often emphasizes individual achievement and competition and prioritizes written texts as the primary transmission mode.



Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community: Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education: Vol 7, No 1 (tandfonline.com)


2 thoughts on “Understanding Numeracy”

  1. I like that you made personal connections about your Eurocentric learning experiences in the Philippines. I would like to hear more in depth about your quote “three countries colonized the Philippines” to gain a better understanding of this statement. I also admire that you referenced unrealistic math problems used in the Eurocentric approach. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Hello Jozelle, I enjoyed your post this week. You connect to the class content well and add many personal experiences, which add depth to your post. I would love to hear more about your experiences with moving to Canada related to oppressive practices outside of mathematics. I enjoyed the quotation you used at the closure of your post because it showed variation is present through subtle differences. Thank you for sharing!

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