Mathematics and different perspectives

When I look back on my experiences learning Math in school I can’t think of a time when I thought that someone was being discriminated against within the math classroom. I went to school in a community dominated by people who thought in a European way and math was just something that was done the way it was. I never thought that there could be other ways of doing math or that anyone could be discriminated against. I have not taken math since High School so I still have not personally seen anything that I could call discrimination by math. Perhaps people who had learning disabilities or something like that may have felt that way, but I never new if they did.

When looking at Poirier’s article, it is interesting that the Inuit understanding of math is so different from what I have learned. The idea that 20 is a base number instead of 10 like we use. It is actually quite difficult to wrap your head around having to do math in a completely different way. Even things such as using body parts as units of measurement instead of centimetres and metres are quite different and speak to the different realities and understandings that people can have. The needs and uses for math are also different. Something that was striking was the use of months and how many days are in them. We have a system that uses math to manipulate our timetable so that there is the same number of days in the month every year and our seasons follow relatively close to that. However, according to Poirier, the Inuit understanding relies more heavily on their surroundings and what the earth is doing around them. For example, the month of September’s length being determined by the velvet on a deer’s antlers.

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