Blog #10: Curriculum as Numeracy

Part 1:

As a student, I was not a strong math student. I disliked math and got so upset and frustrated whenever I didn’t understand. I would try to learn but I could never learn “the way” my teacher taught it or the one strategy they would teach to solve a math problem. This led me to believe I was “just not a math person” or that “my brain did not work that way”. After reading the articles provided and Eddie Woo’s Tedtalk I was able to understand the oppression that is integrated in Eurocentric forms of math. Personally, throughout my education there was just one way I could perceive/learn/understand mathematics and that is how I always thought it would be. In general, math is difficult if you struggle to understand the one technique that is being taught, let alone if you have a learning problem, not fluent in English, unable to write/read, or do not understand the Eurocentric cultural ideas that are implemented into the mathematics curriculum. Unlike Indigenous culture, European culture is highly linear and focus’s on the world individually instead of as a whole. Limiting math to linear forms inflicts cultural issues and language problems. Some languages like Inuit languages do not have numbers but instead have words that have more then a singular meaning. For example: the number 10 in Inuit means “the top”, 6 means “There are many threes”, 7 means “There is not exactly many fours”, and 8 means “There are many fours”. Because of the widespread implementation of Eurocentric mathematic curriculum in schools, the Inuit language had to create new words for the identification of number 1 and 2. This example not only demonstrates that oppressive techniques behind mathematics curriculum, but that such cultures/languages have to change in order to adapt to Eurocentric dominance in education systems. 

Part 2: 

  1. All mathematics is written

Eurocentric ideas about about mathematics are linear. Many Eurocentric ideas revolve around math being a written subject. Not an oral or a visual, but in order to truly understand math you must be able to write math equations down or “show your work”. For the Inuit population, their community relied heavily on oral content. The identification of a number or quantity of something changes within different context. There is no ‘one’ but their is Inuk which means one person. Therefore, they cannot or will struggle to adapt to Eurocentric standards in Math. Like Gale said in her lecture, everyone is able to be functioning mathematicians not just in academic contexts but in everyday life. Children as young as one are able to identify a change in quantity and they did not have to write it down to figure out the “right answer”. 

2. All mathematics is singular

Eurocentric ideas about mathematics are singular. Words, numbers, shapes have one meaning only. However, the Inuit language has various meanings for numbers and shapes Inuit word for numbers and shapes has various different meanings in different context. Measurements and shapes do not mean the same in Inuit languages as they do in English. For example, a cube in Inuit means many squares, so instead of just measuring a 3-D square (a cube) their is confusion within the context that the students will be trying to measure. 

3. All mathematics is the same

Many people, argue that math is the most important subject and it stays the same within every language, culture, and place. Yet, this is untrue. The Eurocentric ideas that math is static and unchanging is oppressive especially within Inuit communities. For Inuit people math changes all the time. For example, the number of days in a month changes depending on the season or the animal the month is associated with. The month of September, in Inuit “Inuktitut” means when the “caribou’s antler’s lose their velvet”, therefore their calendar is based on the every-changing natural events that occur differently every year.

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