Inuit vs. Eurocentric Mathematics

Oppression and discrimination in Eurocentric teaching practice:

While the Indigenous way of life is cyclical with different parts that work together in balance and harmony, the European way of life is linear with one mindset that is always working towards bigger and better things. The way I was taught math directly relates to Eurocentric views- there is one way of doing it, this is how it is done, and the results are either right or wrong. I often found myself struggling with math. I can remember trying my hardest and still not being able to do an equation right. One instance that has stuck with me is when I so badly wanted to understand the concept of an equation but just couldn’t figure it out despite my teacher many repeated attempts at explaining it to me. Eventually, my teacher gave up and that was that; I never did grasp the knowledge. I have always blamed my teacher for not trying harder to teach me, however, I can see now that it wasn’t my teacher who gave on me, but rather, our Eurocentric culture.

How Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes of mathematics and the way we learn it:

Its all about context. Inuit mathematics reflect the traditional way of life for Inuit people, while Eurocentric reflects what? The modern way of life for Canadians? This suggests that all Canadians are of European descent which is ridiculous. If you have been learning and practicing math through a Eurocentric lens, then trying to understand it through an Inuit lense would be quite tough. Europeans and Inuit, however, are two people groups that make up the Canadian population? By teaching only European math strategies, we are not only discriminating against the traditional Inuit population but are also missing out on the benefits that Inuit mathematics has to offer. Inuit mathematics is what I would call practical; It doesn’t go beyond what is needed of it. Unlike Eurocentric mathematics which cover every possible problem, even ones that students may never have. As well, our strategies can be so complex that they may have to be relearned over, and over, and over again. Inuit mathematics takes us back to the basics; it takes us back to what we born knowing; it challenges what is actually necessary and what is common sense.


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