Is there Oppression in Mathematics?

(blog ten)

  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 students I was definitely oblivious to the oppression and discrimination of the learning I received. Being someone who is white privileged in a white dominant school I was almost never exposed to other ways of knowing. Before today’s presentation with Gale Russell I was never faced with the, now troubling, thought that I was begin oppressive in my learning and that I could have continued that in my own teaching. By not providing a window of world views beyond our Euro-Western one we are degrading students who may learn in these views, we are also keeping our other students from learning in ways that could benefit their mathematical learning. For some students this type of learning could be crucial to their understanding and development, so why hold these views from them.

  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.

One of the most interesting things I learned from Gale’s presentation and Poirier’s article was that the Inuit community learns their numbers through oral tradition. Because of the oral tradition they have numbers in multiple contexts and it has ”different forms according to the context” (2007). They also learn their math in base 20 (2007), whereas we learn our math in base 10. I did not even know that there was or how to work in any other base, but 10, until my university math course in year one. Gale was also discussing that their way of learning mathematics was not in isolation, but rather they learn in context, using real life situations. For me, I enjoyed learning math either way, but I can see how for some students learning in context can be way easier and more beneficial.

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