I thought that Gail’s presentation was very interesting and she brought up some points that I have never thought about in relation to mathematics. Thinking back to my own experience of schooling, I always hated math. I did not like it and thought that it was the hardest subject that I had taken throughout schooling. However, I do not think that anything I was taught was discriminating against myself or other students. I remember some of the word problems would include First Nations culture or traditions which was a mandatory part of the curriculum. In my experience, mathematics was instructed as being black and white. There was no one correct answer and the process led to answers that were very limited. We were taught each concept as a new unit without any connections being made between the previous lessons.
The main way that Poirier’s article challenges Eurocentric ideas was the concept of mathematics as a universal language. This has been an ongoing perception, that regardless of culture, time or place, the math we use is universally applicable and not subject to change. The Inuit challenge this concept because their worlds are very different and the use of numbers is also different. This influences how they learn math and what concept they can relate to and which ones they can’t. The second way it challenges it is the base 10 vs base 20 systems. The Eurocentric foundation for math is the base 10 system. The Inuit however, have designed their system on a base 20. Where 10 and 100 are most significant for us, 20 and 400 are fundamental in their arithmetic. The third challenge it faces is the difference in language. In mathematics, often times translation can be an issue which could create issues. It is the responsibility of teachers to understand the limitations of our understandings of common sense. We need to be conscious of the gaps between our math understandings and theirs. Instead of assuming that our Eurocentric way is the best way we need to be open to other understandings and other ways of knowing.