Diversity Within Mathematics

Ever since elementary school, I have never deemed myself as a “math” person. It took, and still does take, much studying and reviewing for me to retain different math concepts. My strengths have always been in the humanities and arts, as that is where I am able to reflect and develop my strengths. In saying this, I enjoyed Gail’s lecture as she instilled the concept that we are all “math people” and how math is everywhere and takes many forms. My question is why aren’t schools implementing this diversity of concepts into math classes?

I sometimes believe that math is too linear and consists of either right or wrong answers. Although this structure is needed in some math forms, I believe that it is time we began expanding the math curriculum to include various cultures ideologies. Neither my elementary of high school incorporated “non-traditional” math concepts, and, as Leroy Little Bear mentions, it created an oppressive environment for some students. One memory that sticks in my mind is in Grade seven, when my teacher decided to start teaching us Grade eight math so we, “were prepared…” As someone who already struggled with the Grade seven concepts, I remember feeling embarrassed when I continued working on the Grade seven math and my friends moved on. As teachers, we need to think of the needs of all students before we make a decision such as this.

It is fabulous how Indigenous mathematics concepts are beginning to be taught in Inuit communities as Inuktitut is the first language that Inuit children learn. In English, we are not forced to change our mathematics language halfway through; therefore, why should Inuit children? Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric ideas as it focusses on “… ‘natural’ ways of learning…”, taught by Elders and knowledge keepers.  Inuit ways of measuring consists of using certain body parts to discover length, instead of using the common metric system. In lecture, I also learned how there are different ways to classify the number three, which I find intriguing.

As teachers, we need to provide our students with diversity within learning. I love how Inuit mathematics provide a diverse way of looking at math and the world.

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