Oppression in Math

In my experiences in math during elementary and high school there are many ways in which it came across to be oppressive. At the time I did not realize these things because for as long as I can remember I have always loved math and it had come easy to me so I did not have a problem with the ways in which it was being taught. Now that I look at it from a different lens I see many ways in which it can be problematic to many students. Often teachers only taught one way to get to the answer, when in many, but not all, circumstances there could be more than one way to get to the same final result. Students were always required to learn the specific concept or method and then practice the same type of question over and over until they were ready to take and exam and regurgitate what had been drilled into their heads. Often if students did not understand or could not think and process the methods in the ways the teachers were teaching they were left behind in hopes the next lesson or section would maybe make sense. Another way in which math can be seen as oppressive is if there are students in is if there are students in the class that do not learn well visually, and work better orally because math is almost always taught by reading and writing down questions and answers. Lastly there was not often a lot of context or connection to the real world in what you were doing causing a lot of students to lose interest because they couldn’t see where they would ever use it and apply it to their lives outside of the classroom.

In the reading there were a few ways in which Inuit math challenges the ways of Eurocentric math, these include:

  • Using a base 20 system instead of a base 10 system
  • Using a sense of space to orientate themselves
  • Using their body to make measurements,
  • And using oral method instead of visual methods.

Why Teach Treaty Education?

After listening to Dwayne and Claire’s lecture, and reading Cynthia’s narrative this week there is a few different reasons why it is important to teach Treaty Education in the classroom even if there may not be any students who are First Nations in the classroom. It is important because understanding our past is crucial in moving forward in the future so we do not cause the same harm we once had to First Nations individuals. It is also important because First Nations people were the first people to walk the land we live on, and now we as immigrants are ruling and making all the decisions regarding laws and rights of those who live here because they allowed to share the land with us. Even though lots of students may not understand the content or the purpose of learning about treaties at first, if we start teaching it at an early age the students will have a richer understanding year after year because they will be able to build on their knowledge and hopefully we can reach a point where they find it important to themselves.

I think for me I am always learning about what it means that we are “all treaty people”. I always think back to how the president of the university, Vianne Timmons, starts a lot of her speeches, if not all of them, by reminding everyone that here today we are on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territory. She expresses the importance to recognise and acknowledge this. I think it is important because for a long time our society lacked equality of different groups of people, and I think that today we are finally moving towards having equality amongst everyone.

One big thing that I took away from all of this though is the 5 simple step that Claire broke it down into.

  1. Thinking about Theory
  2. Understanding of Identity
  3. Making Mistakes
  4. Rituals and Ceremonies
  5. Building Relationships

Although teaching Treaty education may be uncomfortable at times, the more we take risks and put it into our lessons, the easier it will become. It will take time for the students to absorb the information so I think, just as Claire talked about, it is important to start with information that is manageable for the students and slowly grow and develop from that.