As I look back on my experiences with math, I cringe. I fall within the percentage of people that hate math. However, perhaps hate is the wrong word. Perhaps saying that I am intimidated and afraid of math is much more accurate. My brain gets fuzzy, my palms sweat, and my nerves are through the roof. As a student who doesn’t ever want to feel not smart or be made to look not smart, I avoided math at all costs. The aspects of math that I found to be oppressive and discriminating were that I felt I was not a “math person”, and so I felt lost and out of place during math lessons. I believe this idea of a “math person” came from how I was treated any time math came up in the class room. I do recall teachers saying “some people just aren’t good at math” or the classic “Some people are good at Art and English and some are good at Math and Science.” hence the term “math people”. In short I believe that as a student I had limited myself. Even worse, teachers limited me. Math is something students may be more naturally inclined to while other students may have to practice more at it. Either way each student can find success in math. I guess we need to make sure we aren’t instilling the ideology that if a student is not “getting it” right away then they aren’t likely to find success in that subject area. Instead, we need to instill the ideology that thing take practice, we need to practice to become “good” at something. I know that as a student I felt because I was not “good” at math I was not going to find a lot of success in post secondary. In fact, I thought post secondary was not an option for me. If I struggled in math I must not be
I would guess that math seems to be discriminatory because it is seen as a “right or wrong” subject, math isn’t generally seen as a grey area. Basically, math is not diverse if anything math is seen as universal. I think many can remember Cady Heron’s answer (watch clip here ) to Janice and Damian on Mean Girls (2004) … math is her favourite subject because it is the same in every country. But is it? I suppose math is technically universal, but the cultural backgrounds, different perspective are not things that we can just ignore. After attending lecture and reading the assigned readings for ECS 210 I have come to look at math in a different way. Not only am I trying to get away from the idea of “math people” and “art people”, I also want to address the fact that math can be different for students based on their personal perspectives. For example, a student coming from a language other than English they may even have different word s for different types of numbers. Different places in the world may have different purposes for math, so the ways in which students learn and what students learn will and should be different.
article: Leroy Little Bear Jagged Worldviews Colliding
After reading Poirier’s article I found myself now aware that math is definitely not a universal language. The examples of Inuit math given were very informative for me. When I had begun to read Poirier’s article I was excited to learn concrete examples that proved that math is not universal. I say prove, because I do come from a Eurocentric background and my perspective of math has been of the Eurocentric ideas ideologies of math. In this article the three concepts of Inuit Math that challenged Eurocentric ideas about how we should learn and use math are the following:
- The way I learned math and the way many students learn math is with a base- 10 numerical system, in Poirier’s article he explains that “theirs is a base-20 numeral system.”. (54).
- As far back as I can remember I have always been told that math is something I will use in everyday life. I wasn’t brainwashed into this idea (or maybe I was), but I actually believe it. I often think of math as necessary, because I need to use it everyday life. With that being said, I never took advanced Calculus and I am doing just fine in my adult life. I found it quite Interesting that the way I was taught math, and the way I view the subject as a whole is not the same in Inuit Math. “It seems that, for these students, two separate and distinct universes cohabit: the world of day-to-day life and the ‘southern’ mathematical world. Furthermore, their everyday world has nothing to do with the mathematical world Teaching Mathematics and the Inuit Community studied in school. They do not perceive mathematics as something that can help them solve everyday problems.” (54-55). This definitely challenges my Eurocentric background in math.
- In Inuit Math, their culture is not lost in the ways they teach math, which makes sense because culture can’t really be separate from the learners, and therefore not separate from the subject.“Traditional Inuit teaching is based on observing an elder or listening to enigmas. These enigmas can be clues for problem solving in mathematics. Furthermore, Inuit teachers tell me that, traditionally, they do not ask a student a question for which they think that student does not have the answer.” This way of teaching is not necessarily present in they ways I have been taught math, I don’t think it has been present in the way I have taught math either. “In the Inuit language, Inuktitut, there are the singular (for example, Inuk means one person), the dual (Inuk means two persons), and the plural (Inuit means many people). Traditionally, it was for three and up that they needed words to express quantities.” (57) Using language as part of math challenges in Eurocentric way of teaching math, in the way that math is made into something talked about not strictly something taught and practiced with pencil and paper.
Louise Poirier (2007) Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community, Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 7:1, 53-67, DOI: 10.1080/14926150709556720
1.What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are few or no First Nations, Metis, Inuit peoples?
As Dwayne said, we live in country where many people identify themselves as Canadians, but they do not identify with any “culture”. However, those same people identify First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people as people who have a strong culture. This culture is often treated as if it cripples the way First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people learn. I think that in learning First Nations, Metis, and Inuit content students are learning of the accurate history of Canada, but also learning what culture actually is. I believe that students may be able to gain a perspective that shows First Nations, Metis, and Inuit are not the “others”, and that students not of First Nations, Metis, or Inuit background also live their lives in their own cultural context. This connection to on another is crucial in the reconciliation of our country. And I think that if a teacher does not see the need for this in any classroom (no matter the demographic) that teacher is in the wrong mindset of what the purpose of education is.
2. What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?
This is something I have thought about numerous times over the past couple of months. I have gone through Treaty Education workshops, I have had assignments that revolve around treaty education, and so on. Yet, I am almost embarrassed to say that I don’t exactly know how to explain why I am a treaty person. In my greatest attempt to understand this I suppose I would say that treaties (specifically) treaty 4 is a huge part of my community. I think that the treaties are a part of the history of my country’s land. I also believe that the treaties need to be held in the promises they were intended to be. I don’t stand for the dishonesty and the lies that the government committed in their relationship with our ingenious peoples. I believe that all my beliefs about this are what makes me a treaty person, because when anyone in our communities is being treated unjust, we are all living with the injustice.
List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
- The presence of the Cree language that can be read throughout the article is reinhabitation of the culture.
- “The processes of creating an audio documentary about relations to the river and engaging in trips along the river were part of a decolonizing process of re-membering (following Haig-Brown, 2005) as younger generations were re-introduced to traditional ways of knowing.” (p.71)
- “In the early research design stages, it was evident that a community priority was bringing together Elders and youth so they could learn from one another about the role and meaning of the land to social well-being. Since that time, the project has been about fostering development of meaningful space for inter-generational dialogue” ( p.72)
This shows the community approach, learning form elders, learning from one another. Honouring th community and all of it people is a part of decolonization. It is giving everyone a voice that is listened to, and respected.
- “Youth conducted interviews with peers, adults, and elders on key issues related to the role of land, the river, and the people for community social and economic well-being. Fifteen interviews were collected and formed the basis for a short audio documentary, titled The Kistachowan River Knows My Name, which aired in the local community and on Wawatay radio, which reaches a wide audience in northern Ontario.”
The youth interviewing is giving them an inquiry and investigational approach to learning. Youth that learn form their community member will understand more about their community and its members. In this case the culture is being orally passed down.
How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?
I value learning about culture from people who are culture bearers. I want my student to learn from their own community, to learn the cultures, the practices, and the importance of each of these elements. I know that when I was in school there was a glaringly obvious absence of First Nation and Metis influence. I don’t believe that because I went to school that were predominately white is a valid reason for this absence, but it thinks that it may have been one of the reasons. I also believe that the influence of the government is moved into our society through our education systems. When I was in elementary and high school First Nations and Metis content was practically invisible within the curriculum. And if it was present the teacher certainly did not teach it. For years, the education systems in Saskatchewan got away with this, but now the cat is out of the bag. I want to make sure that any student who comes into contact with me, will also come to learn about the community that they live in. And each and every student in Saskatchewan is part of a community that has a First Nations and Metis presence. I want to see the First nations languages in my schools, I want to see the First Nations way of knowing present, the circle of courage, etc. I want my students to listen to Elders of our community, to learn about the affects of residential school. I want my students to experience decolonization, and I want o reinhabitate the culture that is indigenous to this place.
The Arts education curriculum is a unique curriculum in the sense that there are several facets within it. The main idea of the Arts Education curriculum is to use are to respond, produce, and reflect. Art in itself, in any arts strand is very personal. Art is not black and white and although I believe it is a necessary part of learning, it may not always be treated as such. I find that the core curriculum has a focus on autonomous literacy. While Autonomous literacy does have somewhat of a place within the Arts Education curriculum, the unwritten curriculum in is heavily based within the ideological literacy realm.
The ways in which I would like to see art in the education of my students would revolve around ideological literacy. Ideological literacy allows for a more personal approach. The social practice presented in ideological literacy, this is a key part of teaching the arts. The attention to knowledge, identity and being coincides with the Arts Education curriculum almost identically. I do however believe that art can be valued in the sense that art does incorporate an autonomous literacy that will improve social and cognitive processes.
I think that school curricula is developed through the knowledge of what students need to know to be a contributing and functional member of society. For example, we need to know some math, as we use it on day to day bases. Learning to write and read is also important…as I am writing this I am thinking to myself “OK, so what about the arts?”. To be honest I don’t have a clue how school curricula is developed, I guess I have just always trusted that someone one out there knows what I need to know. i do however assume that professionals in each field are consulted in each subject area.
Having read the article over carefully it has been made very apparent to me that our education, and what we learn/teach in school is basically a product of politics. The government and powerful/rich people have their hands on everything, and mostly to ensure that school will pump out the necessary workers they will need to benefit the province, not necessarily what the communities need just whatever makes the province money. While I don’t think it is wrong to teach students things that will help them contribute an succeed in their communities, I do not believe that anyone’s education should be up for political debate. It is almost as if we are indirectly told what we are going to do with our lives by the things we learn in our school curricula.
Asking why citizenship is a curricular problem is very complex question. When I read through the readings that present students and what they learn about citizenship I found it interesting that many students can fully describe some ideas that revolve around citizenship but their socioeconomic status has more to do with it that how they learn about it at school. Students that would be categorized into the lower demographic don’t identify with the term citizen, in most cases. When students are engaged in learning about being a good citizen while the residing in the “higher” socioeconomic status they have a tendency to hold more interest. It is very apparent that students, aside from school, have an idea of what a good citizen is, even more interesting they may already know if that applies to them or not.
Coming from a relatively higher middle class background it is hard for me to think of myself as not a citizen. This brings me to reflect on why I think this? Was it the way in which I was brought up, the ways in which I was and am treated in society, or maybe it was even the school I was enrolled in. The idea of white privilege is true and certainly has a role in the understanding my citizenship, but so does my upbringing, the things I was taught at home, at school, walking down the street to the corner store, how I was treated in that corner store. The opportunities I had as a child were nothing short of a privilege. I believe that these privileges have a role in how we view citizenship in our own lives. I am to claiming that is right, because it is not. I guess what I am saying is that our social status does play a role, and I want to know how I can change this.
Changing these socially constructed ideas of what makes a citizen seems impossible, but what would happen if citizenship was part of the curriculum. When I say part of the curriculum I mean, what if students really went through a unit about what a citizen is and what a “good” citizen is, would they then identify with being a citizen? In some cases, I suppose it is proven that they would not. This idea of citizenship goes deeper than our education, how do we as teacher enforce this idea outside of the school?
Commonsense is something that is culturally constructed to maintain or set a level of expectation within a community. To be a “good” student would mean that this particular student uses this culturally constructed ideas of commonsense as guide to his or her own life. In short, a “good” student follows the rules, doesn’t challenge, and remains in the norm at all times. The problem with this is that because this commonsense is culturally created, it can be assumed that it would favor one specific socioeconomic background, race, gender, etc. These commonsense ideas deflate the importance of a diverse community. It truly does take all kinds to make the world go around, so why do should we look to this commonsense to guide us? In history the world changers are almost always rule breakers, they challenge the norms and break through a better world for all.
So what does it mean to be a good student? I believe to be a good student we first need to look at the teachers. For example, what does the teacher facilitate? Do they challenge their students? do they advocate for their students? Sure, some students may need extra attention in the behavioral front or maybe they struggle in a particular subject. Whichever way you put it, I simply cannot say there is such thing as a bad student (short of not putting any effort in and acting as if the world will just hand them the things that they want in life). A good student needs opportunities to challenge the norm, to learn in different ways, to be exposed to new ways of thinking. No two students are the same, so lets not trap them in this box that is commonsense.