Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Des Erreurs De Calcul : Les Discours De Decolonisation et Anti-Oppressifs Dans L'enseignement Des Mathematiques Aux Autochtones

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Des Erreurs De Calcul : Les Discours De Decolonisation et Anti-Oppressifs Dans L'enseignement Des Mathematiques Aux Autochtones

Article excerpt

Miscalculations: Decolonizing and Anti-Oppressive

Discourses in Indigenous Mathematics Education


Mathematics education is a broad area of research and practice that looks at topics ranging from the cognitive psychology of mathematical learning, to understanding how mathematics is used in applications, research, the workplace, and daily life (Anderson, Reder, & Simon, 1999; Fischbein, 1999; Gutierrez & Boero, 2006; Nicol, 2002; Wedege, 2010). One particular topic that is researched worldwide is mathematical competency and achievement disparity between various social groups on the basis of class, gender, or race (Cocking & Chipman, 1988; Davison, 1992; Fryer & Levitt, 2004; Knipping, Reid, Gellert, & Jablonka, 2008; Lauzon, 2001; Nelson?Barber & Estrin, 1995; Riegle-Crumb & Grodsky, 2010; Stevenson, Hofer, & Randel, 2000; White, 2001; Yow, 2012). Ethnomathematics is an area of research and practice that considers perspectives in mathematics and education related to cultural groups, social groups, classes, and age groups, and has a political and ethical focus on cultural recuperation (Frankenstein, 1990; d'Ambrosio, 1985, 2001, 2006). In the Canadian context, researchers discuss topics including student and teacher perceptions of mathematics, pedagogy, curriculum, and teacher content knowledge, as well as the need to improve mathematical literacy, accessibility, and relatability for Aboriginal students by examining the social, political, and cultural dynamics of mathematical learning for Aboriginal students (Aikenhead, 1997, 2001; Bassani, 2008; Doolittle & Glanfield, 2007; Dorman & Ferguson, 2004; Ezeife, 2002, 2006, 2011; Glanfield, 2006; Higgs & Chernoff, 2014; Liljedahl, 2015; Liljedahl, Chernoff, & Zazkis, 2007; Jegede & Aikenhead, 1999; Lunney Borden, 2013; MacIvor, 1995; Martin, 2013; Russell & Chernoff, 2016; Smith, 1994; Sterenberg et al., 2010).

In North America, many practitioners consider the educational disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners, as well as the ways culture and language could be connected to mathematics as a way to close the gap and provide a more inclusive learning environment (Aikenhead, 1997, 2001; Aitken & Head, 2008; Davison, 1992; Doolittle, 2006; Doolittle & Glanfield, 2007; Ezeife, 2002, 2006, 2011; Graham, 1988; Greer, Mukhopadhyay, Powell, & Nelson-Barber, 2009; Jegede & Aikenhead, 1999; Lunney Borden, 2013; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 2002; Nolan & Weston, 2014; Sterenberg et al., 2010; Sterenberg & Hogue, 2011). While many practitioners recognize how the teaching of mathematics can reinforce oppression (Donald, Glanfield, & Sterenberg, 2013; Iseke-Barnes, 2000; Mason, 2006; Nolan, 2009; Powell & Frankenstein, 1997; Wagner & Lunney Borden, 2010), we discuss literature that lacks anti-oppressive and decolonizing discourses in relation to how mathematics education and low achievement for Indigenous peoples are being addressed. Our critique is not specific to ethnomathematics research, but rather is directed more generally to researchers and educators who take up Indigenous mathematics education. We found a number of problematic issues.

One issue is that the disparity is typically attributed to a lack of cultural relevance in mathematics or incompatible cultural learning styles in the classroom, with some North American researchers and educators failing to acknowledge colonization and ongoing racism as the fundamental cause of inequality (Eziefe, 2002, 2006, 2011; Barta et al., 2001; Macmillan, McGregor, & Old, 2005; Nielsen, Nicol, & Owuor, 2008; Pewewardy, 2002). We believe there is a disconnect between what is taken up in mathematics education as decolonizing, anti-oppressive, and social justice discourse and the discourse itself as produced by scholars and practitioners in the fields of decolonizing education, critical race theory, and integrative anti-racist pedagogy (Battiste, 2011, 2013; Dei, 1996; Kumashiro, 2000, 2004; Ladson-Billings, 1995; Schick & St. …

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