From what I can remember from math classes I was apart of, they sucked. Plain and simple. I’ve never been a math guy and that really hurt me in those classes. My elementary and middle school experience was pretty normal with math classes, as back then it was fairly simple and straight forward. Once highschool came, that is when it all went downhill. Math is one of those courses that reward the ones who can understand it, and hurt those who can’t get it. I was one of those kids who couldn’t understand it no matter how hard I tried. That is where I really saw the discrimination in math. It wasn’t towards a certain race or culture, but it was towards the group of students who weren’t as good at math or processing information as others.
This is something that is really scary because math is a required course for students to get into university, and not everyone is as good at it. I was always told by every single math teacher that we would use what we learned in the real world. I can talk from my personal experience that I’ve only ever used math I learned in middle school in real life. I’ve never used the Pythagoras theorem in my life like all my highschool teachers told me I would. The main aspect of learning math that was especially oppressive and discriminatory was towards those who couldn’t understand it, and those who have learning disabilities. In my school, if you had a learning disability, then it sucked to be you. The school wouldn’t offer you any extra help or support because they claimed to be “preparing you for the real world”. This is something a lot of students struggled with because it wasn’t their fault they couldn’t understand it and were punished for that anyways. They were never offered any help and when they asked for it, they were told to suck it up. This is the discrimination I saw during math classes and is something that is absolutely disgusting.
In Poirier’s article, the first way he challenges Eurocentric learning of math is by first learning it in their own language. This challenges the Eurocentric learning by not learning it in English first. For these students, it’s important to learn it in their own language first because it could help some students understand it better. The other benefit of this is it helps these younger kids keep their language in their lives. That is something that is beneficial for their own lives so that they also don’t lose their culture as they grow up. The second way in Poirier’s article is that they don’t see mathematics as a way to solve everyday problems. This really challenges Eurocentric learning because every single teacher I’ve ever met and talked to has told me that math can help you solve everyday problems. The Inuit’s are really onto something here, because as a previously mentioned, I’ve barely had to use what I have learned in math. I think they’re doing the right thing by telling their students and not letting them see math as an everyday thing they will use, because in reality, most people just need to know the basics of math to survive society. The third way is students often will observe an elder or listen to an enigma, which can be certain ways to problem solve in mathematics. This has lead to a lot of their teachers not asking their students questions they won’t have an answer to. This is something that is really important because a lot of times in my learning, teachers would ask you the questions you didn’t know to try and challenge you, which was meant in the best intentions, but this puts a lot of pressure on the student because when they don’t know the answer, other students will often look at that student as stupid. The way Inuit teachers are setting up their students for success and not trying to see them fail is something that the Eurocentric learning could really use.