ECS 210

The diversity in learning math

  1. 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?

Thinking back on my own math experiences, I believed that I was good at math in elementary school. The teacher would often give out questions, or put questions on the board to complete. In some classrooms, we had dividers to put on our desk to ensure that even our math worksheets were completed individually. I felt very confident in my math work because I was learning in the ways that I enjoyed. There was sometimes group or partner work, but majority was individual working at our desks.

Specifically, I remember grade two having timed questions, like mad minutes, every math class at the beginning. It would test us on the concepts that were taught the class before. This was something that I often remember stressing about and was never looking forward to.

In high school, our math classes consisted of sitting in our desks, listening to the explanation of how to complete a question, then working on the assigned questions until the bell rang. Questions were then later assigned for homework. My math classes were very oppressive in a way that it was not diverse about the different learning styles in the classroom. Throughout all of my schooling, it was either completing the questions on the board, textbook, or on the test. Education today is teaching to all types of learning styles which would help in math classes.

  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.

In lecture, Gale discussed at the end of class at the Inuit culture uses base 20 instead of base 10. This was when I really realized that their mathematics were very different compared to my own experiences. She asked us if math could make connections with other subjects. At first, I thought… it is math! It is not going to connect with other subjects like social studies could with other subjects. After having the discussion, math can really play a part in all or very close to all subjects. This was something I would have never realized if Gale did not ask us this question.

After reading through Poirier’s article, I have realized that they often challenge the norms of teaching mathematics. They have different teaching methods than we do in Saskatchewan. For example, they focus more of their learning through their culture and their belief system. This is something that is often forgotten in our public schooling system.

We believe that math is a universal language. We should be able to learn and teach the same way for math here as we do in other provinces and countries. This is a good example to realize that everyone learns and thinks differently. One of the biggest differences that they focus on outside of a mathematic class in this article is the calendar’s that they use. It is very focused on different things happening in their culture and community. For example, “one month depends on how long it takes for a natural event to take place.” This is completely different compared to our months because ours are set, except for February that can change. We as future educators need to realize that many different provinces and countries teach and explore certain topics and subjects in diverse ways. For myself, possibly exploring these diverse ways in my future classroom could help with the learning of my students.


Click to access Little_Bear_Jagged_Worldviews_Colliding.pdf

Click to access Poirier%282007%29%20Teaching%20mathematics%20and%20the%20Inuit%20community.pdf

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