Views on Mathematics

In my learning of mathematics and initial views towards it, was that there was no way to possibly cause oppression considering the fact that it doesn’t directly attack a person’s views towards their past (like history or social studies might). According to Leroy Little Bear, the “singular, static, and objective” ways in which the Eurocentric views are presented (especially pertaining to maths and sciences) transmit an oppressive view towards learning that neglects the views in which First Nations people view the world. The Eurocentric views objectify everything around them, whereas the Indigenous perspective personifies the world and everything in it. Little Bear goes on to say that “they have done a fairly decent job of describing the customs themselves, but they have failed miserably in finding and interpreting the meanings behind the customs.” This is a direct response towards colonialism and the attitude on deconstructing nature.

In terms of spatial relations, Poirier mentions some research that has shown that Inuit children are first to pick up on geometry and spatial representation. These same children fail to meet curriculum requirements because it does not fall into the ways that they learn it which is verbally from an elder or listening to enigmas (not paper-pencil).

Inuit people use the most basic version of mathematics which is essentially just numbers and shapes (no calculus). These numbers/shapes have a few different names for them. Both of these are used to help Inuit people in everyday life, and not to go past that. For example, when measuring clothing, they would measure parts of the body, they would also use parts of the body to measure other things as well such as feet for measuring their homes.

Gail demonstrates the inferiority on how colonialized education puts everything in terms of standard units (eg. 2 + 2 = 4), but not everything, including animals, are not measured in terms of these standard units. Colonial education lacks place/context.  The animals have reasons as to why they are priced the way they are and because of the different dimensions that they have. This was a general example, but it applies to Inuit people and how they trade as well.

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