Does Math Make Sense?

Thinking back on my education of mathematics, it was a very positive experience all around. Since I can remember, I have always loved math and I think part of it was because I was able to understand it really easy. I could take the numbers and equations and work through them rather quickly. In elementary school I can remember the teacher following the Math Makes Sense textbook like it was the only thing that could teach us anything about math. For a long time, I honestly didn’t think any other textbook existed. Back then, I never thought anything about it but now I am realizing that those textbooks were potentially discriminating against or oppressive to my fellow students. With only learning from the same textbook for most of your life, you learn to solve problems the way that THEY want you too. Some teachers would even mark others differently depending on how you got the answer, rather than if it was correct or not. I myself have even struggled with  trying to change my ways of problem solving to fit what the textbook (and my teacher) wanted from me. This can be problematic because not everyone will understand the one method of solving a specific type of problem. Still up to this day, I have not learned anything about how math is taught and viewed through Indigenous perspectives and I know that I am really missing out. I hope that I can experience some of this teaching while at the university, as well as be able to transfer it to my future classroom. Being a math major, I think it would be beneficial to break this cycle and introduce new ways of teaching so that all y students can understand to the best of their ability. 

Within Poirier’s article about teaching mathematics within the Inuit community, challenges the way Eurocentric ways of viewing math. The first mentioned is learning math in their own language. This can be transferred into classrooms all around because math can be a very complex subject. If students don’t fully understand English or French (depending on where they are learning math) then it can make figuring out the problem 10 times harder. This will also help students stay in touch with their culture and who they are. If they are coming to school and are speaking English, but go home and speak a different language, it can be difficult to connect what you are learning and get help from parents if you don’t know how to translate the terms into their own language. Even some of my friends who are in French Immersion school, do not know how to do math in English because the terms and symbols are different. Another way that Inuit mathematics challenges the Eurocentric view of math is through seeing the purpose for math. Although I am a lover of math (most of the time), I often question when I am going to use the derivative to determine velocity, or when I am going to need to know the rate of change of a ladder sliding down a wall in the future. However, the Inuit community believes that math being taught should be transferable to everyday life needs. This would definitely help me as a future math teacher to explain to my students why what we are learning is important. Finally, another way that the Inuit teachers math that differs from the Eurocentric view is through the teaching styles. One style would be through oral learning. Oral learning is important to their community because most learning is done through storytelling and would be another close connection to their culture. 

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