Like so many others, I have always struggled with math. While growing up and still to this day, I do not like math. The people who were good at math and liked it were always the ones that got the most attention in the classroom. In grade 11, my math teacher was not a friendly and open teacher. If you did not understand something, he would not be helpful and often talk down to you. This made it even harder to learn because I never wanted to ask him questions. This created a classroom environment which was oppressive and discriminatory. Students who struggled often continued struggling, whereas, the ones with the natural ability for math or that the teacher liked, succeeded.
Three ways Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about math are:
- Language – Inuit mathematics challenges the eurocentric view that math is a universal language. Inuit children learn math in their own language. The Inuit people do not see math as helping them in their everyday lives – something many of us are taught from a young age.
- Spatial Relations – In the article from Poirier, he says that Inuit children think about spatial representations in a different way than Canadians do. He says, Inuit are also often very good at geometry. These skills are not valued as much in a classroom today.
- Teaching Methods – Inuit children often learn from listening or observing an elder. What the child hears or observes from the elder is then used to solve math problems. This shows how Inuit people use oral tradition to learn math, something that is very different from Eurocentric ideas about math.