Throughout my schooling experiences in elementary and high school, I never thought about whether or not the teaching or learning encompassed aspects that were oppressive or discriminating. I, more or less, just went to class to learn and believed that my teachers were educating us in the best way possible. However, now that my learning and lenses have evolved, I now know and realize that my schooling experience regarding mathematics shared aspects that were oppressive and discriminating for some of the students around me. I remember my classes being fairly diverse with students of all ethnicities, cultures, and even abilities. After reading Little Bear’s article, Jagged Worldviews Colliding, I realize that my previous experiences were all centered around a Eurocentric perspective: a linear, singular, static, and objective approach to learning and teaching. In using this approach, it discriminated against other students who may not learn this way either due to their various abilities or how they grew up culturally. Instead, this learning aspect was focused and stuck on the traditional White way of learning rather than exploring the different ways in making education more inclusive such as through traditional storytelling of the Aboriginal peoples.
Poirier’s article, Teaching Mathematics and the Inuit Community, and Dr. Gale Russel’s lecture, both highlight how Inuit people learn and teach math in ways that challenge the common Eurocentric way. One way in which this is evident is through how they teach. Unlike Eurocentric teachings, where the students are seated in desks, write down all the answers to “show their work”, and raise their hand to share or speak, Inuit teachings focus on the importance of relationships, oral teaching, and connections to everyday life. As Dr. Gale Russell highlighted, the Inuit culture encompasses the idea that math is a subject where relationships and personal experiences should be upheld. These traditional mathematic teachings that focus on everyday life includes understanding a sense of space to orient where they are, using your own body as measurements for sewing, and many other examples. Another way in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas is how the students will never be asked a question in which the teacher believes they won’t know the answer. In my experience in school, teachers would always ask a question and essentially wait until students either guessed or came up with an answer. Finally, as previously mentioned before, Inuit mathematics focuses on relating everything back to everyday life. While out in the open, students are taught about shapes and how they can use an Inukshuk to transmit messages, shield them from the wind, and even create a hiding place when hunting. They also relate measuring tools, such as calendars, to the changing environment around them. I believe that incorporating these ways of teaching and learning math would be very beneficial to all students as it gives them a different perspective in learning as well as gives them a better chance to relating what they learned to their everyday life.