Surviving in the North: How to Bridge Inuit Culture with Mathematics
Inuit live in the circumpolar regions of Canada and have their own culture, which they tend to celebrate in their educational curricula. These differences in their culture however bring many challenges and issues such as some mathematical concepts like probability not being defined or not having the same meaning in their traditional culture, thus leading to a possible negative impact on learning. Also, students are exposed to many gambling games that are socially accepted. It has been documented that kids start waging personal items and also start participating at different lottery and gambling games at a young age. They thus risk developing dependencies towards gambling. It is therefore crucial to develop in students a conceptual understanding of probability and critical thinking skills so they can make educated decisions toward gambling games.
This collaborative research aims to study the development of student’s probabilistic reasoning as well as their critical thinking and decision-making skills towards gambling through learning situations created between the researcher and a grade 3 Inuit teacher who volunteered to participate in this project. The learning situations created follow Savard’s enthomathematical model, which implies that mathematical thinking begins with a sociocultural context, in this case traditional old games that were played by Elders in the past, that is studied in a mathematical context and where the results influence student’s critical thinking skills toward the sociocultural aspect in question.
The goals of the research are to study:
1) the development of probabilistic reasoning in students that have cultural referents toward gambling and the random effect present in the Inuit culture;
2) the manifestations of critical thinking of students toward gambling games;
3) the influence of peers on the representations.
Research Team: Annie Savard, Principal Investigator (McGill University); Dominic Manuel and Terry Wan Jung Lin, Research Assistants (McGill University)
Research funded by FQRSC.
Annie Savard, PhD
Department of Integrated Studies in Education
3700 McTavish, Room 309
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1Y2