Week six: Numeracy and Single Story

Week six: Numeracy and Single Story

Part 1 (Numeracy): Using Gale’s lecture, Poirier’s article, and Bear’s article, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purpose of mathematics and the way we learn it.

Inuit mathematics challenges eurocentric ideas and the purpose of mathematics in the way we learn. They have different perspectives and different approaches to math. I think it’s important to always include and each different approachest perspective. Everybody’s brain thinks differently Therefore the more options and approaches there aren’t enough the better, it gives students more opportunities to understand. Inuit way of teaching math is quite interesting and I think it should be incorporated into Western teaching. 

The Inuit people have a different way of looking at numbers and grasping them. Gail Russell used a story about sheepherders and Western researchers to explain this. Some researchers wanted to trade two bags of tobacco for 1 sheep. The sheepherders agreed to this. The researchers wanted a second sheep so they thought they brought 4 bags of tobacco. They used their logic,  2+2=4. However, when they went to do this trade of 4 bags of tobacco the sheepherders said that is too much for two sheep. The researchers thought the sheepherders weren’t very smart because they didn’t understand the logic.  

If one sheep were two bags of tobacco then why aren’t two sheeps worth 4 bags of tobacco? The sheepherders had a different perspective and different logic. They did not see sheep as a standard unit. Every sheep is different and has a different value. They thought the researchers were less intelligent because they didn’t see that one sheep was inferior to the other therefore not worth as much.  Different cultures and communities have different standards of knowledge and it is important that we are aware of this as teachers and understand that there are different knowledge and different ways of understanding. 

Inuit people have different understandings of knowledge then the western perspective, this does not make one inferior to the other it just makes it different. 

Inuit mathematics uses the real world. The numbers they use change based on what the numbers represent. They may have three or four different names for a number based on what the number is representing at that time. This allows students to make connections and relationships with the math they are doing. It makes math more real life. It may seem confusing to because we were taught Western mathematics but we have to understand that it is different knowledge and a different perspective. I can see this being beneficial because it allows the students to connect to the land and what they are learning.

Inuit people learn math in a very different way it challenges eurocentric views. They have a more Hands-On approach. Loise Poirer mentions how the paper and pencil approach isn’t as natural for Inuit learning in math. The Inuit people teach math through stories and listening to their Elders so the students can relate to what they’re learning. they try and allow students to make connections and experience math in everyday life. Unlike the Western approach where students watch the teacher write examples on the board. I don’t see the benefit of students learning from stories. I never thought that math could be taught through stories before. I can see students remembering stories more than they remember an example on the board. I think both ways could benefit students because every student learns differently so the more options the better. 

Western math has a very linear, ‘one way or the highway’ approach.  they have the right way and the wrong way of doing things. Whereas Inuit math teachings do not have only one right way. There is options and freedom. Students are encouraged to figure things out on their own then explain their thinking to the teacher. I can see this being really beneficial especially because their math is based on real-world problems and situations. I think this is important because students are taking control and thinking independently. Everyone thinks differently and this allows kids to truly understand the math.

Part 2 (Literacy): Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered? What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn / work against these biases? 

I think my schooling was very linear. I had a single story at the European view. I grew up in a small town so I really only learned about the Western history and ideas. The only time I learned about indigenous knowledge for example was in the Indigenous section of history class and even then it still was partially the European perspective because they were the people who wrote the history.

 The white man was the one that mattered in my schooling.  In history class, we learned about Christopher Columbus and the fur trade.  We didn’t learn about indigenous culture and way of life.  In English language arts, we read books written by white authors like The Giver or The Outsiders. It wasn’t until grade 12 till we read a book about indigenous women,  April Raintree. This gave me another story and another perspective. 

I know I will have a lens and bias in the classroom. Every teacher does. I have a eurocentric view because of the way that I was taught. I hope to learn New Perspectives and stories with my students. I will show them that I am a lifelong learner. My knowledge and perspectives will grow as I get older and learn more.  The only way to unlearn biases is to constantly learn new stories and perspectives. That is what I will do to try and have as many stories and perspectives in my classroom.  My future students won’t have one story knowledge they will have a plethora of stories and perspectives. 

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