Inuit Mathematics

When I had the chance to look back at my own education and the different ways that we had learned math, I think about the underlying messages that come along with that type of learning.  Math itself is not based on perspective or opinion, it is based on rules and facts.  The constant message of “number’s don’s lie” always comes to mind.  We were taught that math itself follows rules and every question has a specific answer that you always have to come to.  We were taught to do math in a certain way, and that when you were able to figure out the right mathematic answer that was not the way the teacher taught, it was considered wrong.  Thinking of specific examples of lessons is hard because I have not had a math class for six years.  Thinking back, I can totally see how math could be considered oppressive and discriminating.  It never promoted students to work out questions on there own terms and feel as if they were the ones that came up with it.  We were simply using a method that was given to us and told that it was the only way to do it.  When you compare it to life and the challenges that many people have, we are told a certain way to act and work within society.  Every person does not see the world the same way, but sometimes education is meant to push a certain outlook whether it is wanted or not.

Counting-  They use a different counting system compared to the Western way of doing it.  They have different words for numbers dependant on the context in which those numbers are being used.  In Westernized math, every number can be used in its own form without being changed, which makes it constant.

Localization-  The Inuit have developed an outstanding sense of space to help orient themselves.  Inuit have also developed a very precise vocabulary for speaking about spatial relations.  This is something that I do not remember focusing on in my own education.  I imagine that is largely due to the technological world that we live in that does not require us to need those skills.

Measuring-  Inuit women use certain parts of their bodies to measure length.  In the western world, we use measuring tools compared to body parts.  I imagine this would make westernized people uncomfortable because we are so use to being so precise and calculated.

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