Western Mathematics

I am lucky enough to be taking an EMTH class with Gale Russel this semester and I have been learning and thinking a lot about Mathematics, and my role in Math. I do not believe that I experienced oppression in Math; however, looking back at the Math I was taught, it was very exclusive to Western worldviews. The way I was taught was that there was one way to do and interpret everything, and I was taught Math through lecture rather than experience. This does not make room for any other worldview or make room for students that do not succeed when taught by lecture.

There is a contrast between Inuit Mathematics and the Western Mathematics I was taught. 3 differences or ways the Eurocentric ideas are challenged by Inuit Mathematics are:

  1. Inuit Mathematics uses a base 20 numeral system where general Western Mathematics is typically done in base 10
  2. All cultures use some type of measurements for clothing and shelter. Measuring is done using different body parts in Inuit cultures rather than using measuring tools such as rulers like in Western Mathematics. 
  3. The Inuit people also do not focus on one set way, unlike the eurocentric mathematics. For example, their calendar changes every year based on their environment. 

Altogether I do not think one way of viewing Mathematics is superior to the next. However, the Indigenous worldview makes room for all types of Mathematics which I believe is important for an anti-oppressive Math classroom.


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