ERIC Number: EJ1144716
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 178
Enhancing School Mathematics Culturally: A Path of Reconciliation
Aikenhead, Glen S.
Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, v17 n2 p73-140 2017
Culturally responsive or place-based school mathematics that focuses on Indigenous students has an established presence in the research literature. This culture-based innovation represents a historical shift from conventional approaches to mathematics education. Moreover, it has demonstratively advanced the academic achievement for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Its success has exposed deep fault lines in conventional school mathematics. Many mathematics educators unknowingly embrace problematic, taken-for-granted notions about their school subject that inhibit student engagement and contribute to Indigenous students' low graduation rates. However, innovative researchers and teachers have adapted or developed culture-based teaching materials and strategies that significantly reduce the problems inherent in conventional school mathematics. As a result, these innovators' actions challenge standard curricula and instruction. These changes coincide with another profound transformation taking place in countries with Indigenous citizens. In response to having kidnapped Indigenous children and held them in residential schools in an attempt to rid them of their Indigenous self-identities, Canada's federal government apologized in 2008 and established a process of reconciliation (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2016) for all Canadians. Accordingly, this article has two main goals: to (a) "illustrate" how critical analysis can help educators decide which taken-for-granted notions about school mathematics should continue to be embraced and which ones should be updated because they interfere with the engagement and achievement of most Indigenous students and a majority of non-Indigenous students and (b) identify concrete ways in which mathematics educators, researchers, and curriculum writers can help enhance school mathematics by drawing upon how mathematics is used in both mainstream and Indigenous cultures and in a way that simultaneously promotes both academic achievement and reconciliation. These goals lead to the following questions answered in this article: (1) What conventional taken-for-granted notions impede student achievement? (2) Which of these conventional notions continue to be held by many innovators who have enhanced school mathematics culturally? (3) Which innovative taken-for-granted notions improve student academic achievement? (4) Exactly how do researchers or teachers "see" school mathematics content "embedded" in an Indigenous artisan handwork or activity? (5) Which notions found in conventional school mathematics continue to serve students' interests? (6) How can mathematics curricula mitigate systemic racism and support reconciliation? (7) What specific actions can mathematics teachers, researchers, teacher educators, and curriculum writers take to regenerate what is essentially a Victorian-era, 19th-century elitist curriculum (for Grades 5 and higher) to a 21st-century curriculum in harmony with today's realities? The article advances a pluralist mathematics perspective that makes explicit the cultural nature of school mathematics within an Indigenous cross-cultural framework of respect and collaboration. Mathematics' cultural nature becomes both a context of instruction and content expressed in a curriculum.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Mathematics Education, Culturally Relevant Education, Place Based Education, Indigenous Populations, Academic Achievement, Misconceptions, Barriers, Educational Attitudes, Politics of Education, Mathematics Curriculum, Achievement Tests, Secondary School Students, International Assessment
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Program for International Student Assessment