ECS 210- Viewing Mathematics

I’m not going to lie, math and I and do not get along. For as long as I can remember, I have always struggled with math. I think the reason I struggled so much is because math is a class where your work and answer is either right or wrong, you know it, or you do not and that really intimidated me. Everything we learned was based around the textbook that was being used (Math Makes Sense was the most common) and if you did not understand the textbook and teacher, you often did not succeed. As I got older, there were some units in math where the teacher would show us various ways to solve the problem and that is where I did best because I got to pick what worked best for me. Unfortunately, I did not get that option often and some students in other schools did not get that at all. Every student learns differently, and I know that math is one of those subjects where it is difficult to use various teaching strategies but encouraging hard work and being open to the idea that students learn differently is a great start.

The article “Teaching Mathematics and the Inuit Community” by Louise Poirier suggest various ways that Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric mathematics. Three that stuck out to me include

  1. Learning math in their mother tongue
    • Inuit children go through the first three years of school learning math in their language. Poirier states that “Furthermore, Inuit mathematics is quite different. For example, theirs is a base-20 numeral system.” (pg. 54)
  2. Measuring techniques
    • The first tools used to measure were body parts (fingers, foot, etc.). Today, there are still Inuit people that use body parts as a form of measurement.
  3. Different teaching methods
    • Traditional Inuit teaching involves bringing in and elder and having students observe and listen. Questions are not often asked when using traditional teaching methods unless they know for sure that the students will have the answer.

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