I have never considered myself a math person. While I was growing up learning math was very rote, practice and drill, formulas and memorization. I have a firm grasp on the multiplication table so maybe not all bad.
Learning math as a kid and even as an adult has been for me at least, fraught with anxiety, frustration, and on more than one occasion tears. Sometimes those were tears of anger and sometimes of sorrow for my stupidity regarding most things mathematical.
I cannot think of one time in school where I was shown more than one way to approach a problem. I was always told that it was not hard, and I only had to memorize the formula to be successful. I memorized formulas but until university I never understood the reason the answer was the answer in math. Math was something to be endured, it was like having the flu, you were most likely going to live through it, but you were not going to enjoy it while you had it.
I had a fantastic professor at First Nations University who taught me math in a way that I not only understood but was successful at. It was the first time that I had ever had real success in math. It was the first time that I was able to figure things out on my own and find my own way to a solution. He took the time to explain the why of things in math and he did not believe in formulas although there were a few, he would still explain the why and show us the how, then he would give us the formula if there was one.
I really enjoyed the Inuit math article as it tied in nicely with my math class that I took at First Nations University.
Some of the ways the Inuit community challenges Eurocentric math ideals and ways of teaching are, there is more than one way to do math. Not everyone has a base-10 system. It does not make sense for everyone to have base-10. Even in the Eurocentric math we do not always use it. If you think of time, we use a twelve- or twenty-four-hour clock. Base-10 would not work for how we tell time. We also use binary for writing code and base-7 for our weeks, to name a few.
The Inuit use a base-20, this makes sense to me as most people have five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. Using a base-20 system flows naturally out of this.
In Eurocentric math number words are the same regardless of what we are counting. In the Inuit community their number words change in context to what they are counting. In my opinion, this gives the numbers a deeper meaning and makes for deeper understanding.
In the Inuit calendar the number in any given month could change depending on what that month represents in nature. This means that the Inuit calendar is based on what is happening in nature not how many days a certain month has.
I posted the link to the article Teaching Math and the Inuit Community. By Poirier