Inuktitut Math

  1. 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?                                                                                                         As a student who never excelled in math led me to dislike the subject.  I still dislike math.  In fact, this was the one class I was most stressed about having to take as part of my post-secondary education.  Looking back, I truly believe it could have been different if more of my teachers took the time to slow down and provide more explanation. I was fortunate to be able to go home and get the help I needed there or through several family friends who were math teachers. However, this is not possible for every student. It was not just me that was struggling in these math classes which as a future teacher now realize that this is a large sign of how the information was being taught (or not taught).  Unfortunately, changing teaching strategies to successfully reach all students  requires extra time and effort that realistically teachers do not have. However, even just taking the time to do a few extra questions as a class on the board would have helped the majority of us immensely. Society seems to have this stigma about math and the underlying message is, “I suck at math.”  Therefore, we need to be able to help students push aside these negative thoughts in order to learn effectively.  I will never forget my Grade 10 math teacher who surprisingly was also my favorite teacher as his goal was to ensure that he worked as hard as every student to help them understand. Each class for the entire period he would work his way through the textbook doing every question on the board. If you needed help you could do it along with him, or if not, you could work ahead. This methodology, not to mention his silly math jokes and metaphors, are things I will never forget. That is a simple teaching strategy but so effective that it can change many students view on learning math. I have never thought that math might be discriminatory against certain students.  However, upon reflection, the examples given or the words or situations used in word problems may put some students at a disadvantage.  For example, the examples and word problems use scenarios common to the dominant culture in society which would put the FNMI and immigrant students at a disadvantage.  These students many not be able to relate to these situations in their lives.
  1. 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.
    1. Changing the traditional calendar. They figured out that the Inuktitut calendar is not either lunar or solar. The traditional calendar is based on natural, independently recurring yearly events. The name of each month comes from animal activity or from nature. This is how they learned their months.
    2. Measuring various items using parts of the body (finger, foot, palm, etc.)
    3. Oral numeration in Inuktitut is very different. Teaching student’s oral numeration in Inuktitut as well.

One thought on “Inuktitut Math

  1. I like your insight into the math curriculum, I agree with the structure of the way math is taught. I also enjoyed that you made a connection to seeing that other children were struggling as well as you. I enjoyed math, however, I always struggled with the way I had to show my work when I was in math class. I always had my own way of learning math and I struggled with this. How would you change the way math is taught to ensure that you enjoy teaching it to children more?


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