Challenging the Eurocentric Approach to Mathematics: Blog Post Week 9

The more material that I am introduced to in the forms of readings, videos, and papers, my understanding of the curriculum is changed and adjusted. This is due to the realization that many of the ways I experienced learning could be altered, bypassed, or was just wrong and missing perspectives. I am still able to learn more about the curriculum as well as different subjects such as Science, Treaty Education, and Mathematics. Many people, both students, and educators may only assume that there is one approach or one perspective although looking at this week’s readings, there are many more.

To answer the first question, and thinking back on my experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics I am able to draw upon examples including elementary school and high school. When learning this content, the format was almost universal among different educators and grade levels. There was a lecture oriented approach with notes serving as the foundation of testing. This was a method of simply meeting the objectives (LittleBear, pg. 78). To many, this approach may work the best, but to many students that span different grade levels, this failed them as there was zero engagement or connection with other approaches to learning or instructional strategy, such as interactive learning or experiential. The overwhelming need to meet objectivity is seen through the emphasis on materialism, and could result in oppression toward certain students as there is a need to have quantity of learning over the quality ( Little Bear, pg. 82). Other aspects of oppression may arise when looking at the presence and pressure provided by the singularity. This concept that we are familiarized and adjusted to, manifests itself in our thinking processes ( Littlebear, pg. 82). An example of this in mathematics would include the notion of one true answer but also the teacher upholding one true approach of achieving that answer. The challenge is, if students are unable to follow this or disagree, the concept of failure becomes a greater concern. Discrimination is present through what isn’t being taught in the classroom or in the context of mathematics. Incorporating components of  Aboriginal Education such as ‘by example’ learning and ‘actual experience’ ( LittleBear, pg. 81) can allow students to take mathematical skills and apply them into an interrelated environment. In the position of an educator, this allows for expansion of teaching strategies and land-based learning engagements in the math classroom to follow a pattern emphasizing process ( LittleBear, pg 78).

When looking into the second reading, “Teaching Mathematics and the Inuit Community”, I was introduced and guided through the different learning processes that are used by the Inuit people and how they differ from the Eurocentric dominant narrative approaches to teaching that we experience daily. When looking at a series of four broad observations, we see that mathematics is linked to language and how for a period of time, language linked to mathematics changes after Grade 3 which transforms students’ conception of material (Poirier, pg. 54). As well, there are mathematics and culture, spatial relations, and teaching methods. As well, I was introduced to Inuit education through a social dimension with this playing a core role in the development of mathematics. The three core ways in which Inuit mathematics challenges the Eurocentric ideas of mathematics is in the context of counting. The first is oral numeration as this is how their people traditionally express numbers as well, the core numbers of 20 and 400 are pivotal (Poirier, pg. 57). There is also the core utilization of numbers and the different meanings behind them, for example, number 3 can be used in 6 different contexts including patterns, digits, and playing games. The second is a sense of space, which highlights to the reader that systems and constructs that we experience daily could differ from others, for example, how when Inuit people are reading the environment for survival, or determining location in relation to the nearest village (Poirier, pg. 59). The third way could be seen through measuring. This consists of measuring for lengths such as body parts for fitment of different items of clothing and the application of the phalanx unit. Although, through the traditional calendar other factors can be measured, including how the days are structured in length and the strong link to nature to establish the various seasons (Poirier, pg. 62). Currently, certain terms are difficult to expand on including, isosceles triangle and rhombus in the Inuit language. Terms that are established such as triangle can be seen with two different meanings.

In conclusion, all of the resources that I have had the chance to examine this week have contributed to a larger understanding of how the subjects we experience in our daily lives can vary around the globe. This is especially true when looking in the field of mathematics, with many students and educators adopting the principle of objectivity and following the singularity. By challenging the Eurocentric point of view, we can adopt key principles which can make math more approachable to students.

LittleBear, Leroy. “ Jagged Worldviews Colliding: Reclaiming Indigenous voice and vision.” UBC Press, 2000, LittleBear2000JaggedWorldViewsColliding.pdf – Google Drive. Accessed 4 November 2021.

Poirier, Louise. “ Teaching Mathematics and the Inuit Community.” Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, vol. 7, no.1, 2007, pg. 53-67, Poirier(2007) Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community.pdf – Google Drive. Accessed 5 November 2021.

2 thoughts on “Challenging the Eurocentric Approach to Mathematics: Blog Post Week 9

  1. I also realized how Math could be more relational and engaging to students by looking at other ways of teaching Math outside of the eurocentric view. Great article!

  2. Hi Andrew, it seems like you put a lot of thought and effort in to this response! I agree that the notion of one “true” idea as the Eurocentric, objective view of mathematics can be a negative factor in the crossover between indigenous perspectives on math, especially when peoples such as the Inuit typically focus on subjective, practical aspects of mathematics in their environment. We should certainly consider other approaches to math that consider a more holistic approach to certain areas.


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