Blog Post 8: Curriculum as Literacy

Colonialism is defined as the complete or partial takeover of another country. It is often linked with assimilation, the absorbing of the colonized culture into the now dominant society. Although my personal identity has not been stolen by math, it is still apparent that throughout my high school years mathematics has catered to one specific viewpoint, one of doing what the teacher was told and not questioning its purpose. I did learn well through this method, as I learn very well through simply following tasks and using examples provided as a base to build off of. However, other students may learn through different methods that seem strange to other students and the teacher, and as a result they are led to believe their math skills are not great. This is not the case; it only seems this way because how they have learned up to a new lesson is inconsistent with what they are being taught at a particular moment. To combat this, teachers must incorporate a variety of teaching styles and opportunities to explain the question to students who may be able to figure out the solution to a math problem through different means.

One way that Inuit mathematics challenges Eurocentric teachings is learning through Inuit students learning through their own language in the first three years of teaching, then switching to studying either English or French. We have traditionally studied in one language from preschool education to graduation, never switching through any significant means. It is highly possible that Inuit ways of learning mathematics allow for a greater exploration and development of the curriculum to explore multiple perspectives. Another is the concept of math as a universal language; the Inuit are one of many different cultures who have used math differently according to their surroundings. Although some contexts are used in Eurocentric ideas and other cultures, the ways of learning vary from culture to culture. The Inuit, for example, use enigmas as clues for problem solving. Finally, Eurocentric ways of teaching mathematics usually revolve around a teacher asking a student for an answer, but in Inuit tradition, this is typically not the case. As a result of these changes, it is important to realize how much students with different learning methods have had to adapt to European ways of learning. We must take care to incorporate these perspectives into our classrooms, because in not doing so we risk making students feel inadequate in addition to removing lifelong traditions.

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