Blog prompt (due by seminar on October 31): (note that Gale plans to call upon students to comment on these questions throughout lecture, so please be sure that you have read the articles prior to Friday’s lecture)
- 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?
- After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.
Finally, I want to comment on different disciplines of math. Students in high school had the option to take either regular Math (Foundations), higher branches such as pre calc, calculus or stats, or apprenticeship and workplace math. Obviously, students who took the latter option were considered unable to do math and not going to go anywhere. Even though the course focused on material needed specifically for trade fields and was useful for students wanting to go that direction, any student who took it was looked poorly on. It seems odd to me that while we offer students who are good at different things different paths to succeed, we ostracize them for choosing those options. 2. After reading Poirier’s article, here are three ways Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about math: - Oral Communication: The Inuit communities usage of math skills is an oral practice, and as such, they don’t use a written system as we as Western idea followers do. Their words reflect certain meanings, such as their word for 1 being Atausik which means indivisible, or a number which cannot be divided. However, we as westerners often divide small number such as 1 into even smaller decimals or fractions. As an Inuit learner, this could pose a problem if educators are not willing to meet their individual needs.
- Base 20: In Inuit mathematics, their number system works off of base 20. This can be confusing, especially considering the amount of radix, or base numbers, western mathematics has. For example, we use a base 10 system for decimals, and a base 2 system for the binary system. We use these numbers for specific purposes within our ways of knowing, much as the Inuit do in their ways of knowing. If we took the time, we too could likely use and understand the usage of, a base 20 number system and the benefits of it.
- Measurement: In Inuit mathematics, measurement of time relates to events and as such, they do not follow a calendar to dictate things like the changing of seasons. Rather, they look at the state of the natural environment, such as weather the leaves are turning red, or animals are beginning to migrate, to tell the coming of a new season such as fall. It is not solar or lunar like the Eurocentric calendars, rather it reflects on natural occurrences, and as such, can change from year to year based on when certain events begin to occur.
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