Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the lecture today. However, I noticed from the Wikispace that Dr. Gale Russell was invited as a guest speaker. I have met her in my other class in ECE325, and luckily, I still remember her lecture. She delivered such a powerful and awakening message about mathematics and its place in the classroom. I really enjoyed her presentation because she empathized with my and many others experiences of struggling with math, from young age to adolescents, as well as adults, especially those who are in the field of teaching. And if I may connect my memory of her lecture at that time with the readings today, her view was focused on how math is generally taught using a one-sided, Western dominant approach. This angle is often the reason behind why so many students feel disconnected with math. Although, I believe, the basic skills of measuring quantity and problem solving are so natural to us and we begin using them from such a young age. Along with this, I thought that math can be used and understood by everyone, not simply those who are “born with the skills”. The Western approach can be discriminatory towards those who have different cultural backgrounds, as it considers their knowledge illegitimate.

Speaking of which, looking back, I appreciated her notion of how Western math can be very much a colonial practice, because it supports the idea of one way as the ‘only’ way. Even though I was educated in South Korea, our mathematics was similar with, or perhaps the same as Western math. I did not learn about other approaches to math, and it may sound very self-centred, but I did not expect that there could be another way of approach math, aside from Western ways of knowing. I assumed that math would be done the same way all over the world, because that was all I knew. Poirer’s article, Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community expanded my understanding of how Indigenous ways of knowing differ from Western ways. At first, I wondered why they used base 10, but after realizing the significance behind it, using the “parts of the body”, it made perfect sense to me (p. 60). As Inuit people’s tradition is “essentially an oral one, the Inuit have developed a system for expressing numbers orally.” (p. 57). I can understand how the opposing cultural values of Western written vs. Indigenous oral would cause issues in understanding math.

References

Bear, L. L. (2000). Jagged worldviews colliding. In M. Batiste (Ed.), *Reclaiming Indigenous voice and vision (pp.* 77-85). UBC Press. Retrieved from: http://ecs210.wikispaces.com/file/view/LittleBear2000JaggedWorldViewsColliding.pdf/593340214/LittleBear2000JaggedWorldViewsColliding.pdf

Poirier, L. (2007). Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community, *Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 7(*1), p. 53-67. Retrieved from: http://ecs210.wikispaces.com/file/view/Poirier%282007%29%20Teaching%20mathematics%20and%20the%20Inuit%20community.pdf/609038285/Poirier%282007%29%20Teaching%20mathematics%20and%20the%20Inuit%20community.pdf