Indigenous Perspectives

Websites to provide information and generate ideas:

First Peoples Principles of Learning –  understanding how we might incorporate these principles

FNESC Math Resource – First Nations Education Steering Committee resource with units for Math 8 and 9.

Show Me Your Mathinvites Aboriginal children in Nova Scotia to find mathematics in their everyday environment

SFU Math Catcher – Mathematics Through Aboriginal Storytelling

Aboriginal Curriculum Integration Project –  Cowichan Valley

Lahal video: The Bone Game – Sugarcane BC (near Williams Lake)

Aboriginal Mathematics K-12 Network – UBC

Aboriginal Perspectives Videos and Lessons – University of Regina

Teacher Resources – University of Toronto

Overview of the distinctive cultures of the six main geographic groups of early First Nations in Canada

Characteristics of Aboriginal World Views and Perspectives:

  • Connectedness and Relationships
  • Awareness of History
  • Local Focus
  • Engagement with the Land, Nature and the Outdoors
  • Emphasis on Identity
  • Community Involvement: Process and Protocols
  • The Power of Story
  • Traditional Teaching
  • Language and Culture
  • Experiential Learning

First Peoples Principles of Learning

  • Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.
  • Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).
  •  Learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions.
  • Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities.
  • Learning recognizes the role of indigenous knowledge. ¨ Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.
  • Learning involves patience and time.
  • Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.
  • Learning involves recognizing that some knowledge is sacred and only shared with permission and/or in certain situations.

First Peoples Principles of Mathematical Teaching

Respecting Indigenous Knowledge *

  1. Build on indigenous knowledge systems.
  2. Relate story teachings to mathematical processes (e.g., how characters solve problems).
  3. Make connections to a wide range of differing contexts (daily activities, traditional practices, activities in the workplace) and integrate learning related to mathematics and other subject areas in project assignments.
  4. Find ways to build learning relationships with the local Aboriginal/cultural community (Elders, artists, people in various walks of life, including emergent business and industry).

Respecting the learner

  1. Build on what students are already familiar with (both abstract “knowledge” and concrete knowledge).
  2. Explore and build on students’ interests (asking learners about what is important to them is a good way to identify what context will prove meaningful to them as a basis for learning mathematics).
  3. Present mathematics problems of various sorts in varied ways (visual, oral, role-play, and experiential problems as well as word and symbol problems).
  4. Stimulate students’ innate curiosity and desire to explore.

Fostering the development of positive attitudes

  1. Communicate a positive and enthusiastic attitude toward mathematics (be willing to take risks and make mistakes and encourage students to do the same).
  2. Promote and reward perseverance (give necessary time for difficult problems and revisit them on multiple occasions).
  3. Use humour and celebrate successes.

 Fostering transformation for both teacher and student (transformative pedagogy)

  1. Reflect on and revise your own practice with respect to teaching mathematics (including mistakes).
  2. Find ways to build learning relationships with various professional communities where mathematics plays an important role.
  3. Share what you are doing as a teacher with other colleagues, and use colleagues to support self-reflection.
  4. Encourage students to reflect on and be explicit about their own thinking processes and the transformations in their own understanding.

* Indigenous Knowledge (IK) can be broadly defined as the knowledge that an indigenous (local) community accumulates over generations of living in a particular environment. This definition encompasses all forms of knowledge – technologies, know-how skills, practices and beliefs – that enable the community to achieve stable livelihoods in their environment. […] IK is unique to every culture and society, and it is embedded in community practices, institutions, relationships and rituals. […It] represents all the skill and innovations of a people and embodies the collective wisdom and resourcefulness of the community.

( definition from )

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