Mathematics & Indigenous Knowledge Community of Practice Video Trailer
This is such great and important work! It reminds me of an article I read when I was taking a Gr. 7/8 math course called "Culture-Sensitive Mathematics: The Walpole Island Experience", which explains the importance of knowing your learners and using culturally-relevant examples to illustrate mathematical concepts. The author tells about his physics teacher using a textbook "obviously written for students in a temperate climate", to teach his topic to students born and raised in a tropical, Sub-Saharan African country, where the school was located. He talks about how the example of ice skating was used to illustrate "the inverse relationship between pressure and area", which was a foreign concept to the students.
This was my summary of the actual study (from the course assignment):
The article talks about implementing a culture-sensitive curriculum in the Anishnabe-speaking First Nations community in
Walpole Island, Ontario. It was a study that was split up into 3 phases – the first being gathering background knowledge.
Elders were consulted, and this was deemed very important as well in the “Show me your Math” project – the Show me your Math team spoke to the Elders, but soon realized that it would be beneficial for the actual students to speak to the Elders as well. Researchers found that consulting with Elders will help to build a relevant curriculum bound in local knowledge and history.
The second phase was the interview analysis and integration – the Elders' interviews were largely free-flowing, not at all
formal – and were recorded. A group comprised largely of Indigenous grad students itemized the key topics in the tapes and cross-referenced them with the existing Ontario math curriculum in order to break the topics into the strands.
Finally, the third phase was actual classroom implementation for 2 years to Grade 5 and 6 students (same set of students). They implemented a control group (Group A) that was taught using regular curriculum, and an experimental group (Group B) that was taught with the newly developed (culture- sensitive curriculum. To combat instructor bias, the instructor was not told of the intent to compare the two curricula.
The goal for the two groups was improved mathematical performance, and the groups were told only this – and they were told that their test and quiz scores were not going to affect their overall marks – to reduce anxiety.
An example of one of the measuring activities Group B was exposed to was the measuring of a traditional log house, and of its angles, length, etc. In Data Management and Probability, many lessons were taught in a park, where the students used the circumference of the trees in order to set up ratio relationships and predicting ages of the trees.
Both groups were given a pre-test before they embarked on this journey. Both mean scores were very close, so both groups were of similar stance at the onset. The hypothesis at the onset was that there would also be no significant difference between the control group and experimental group in the post-test, although results showed that there was favour with the experimental group. The highest scoring performance from a student in the experimental group was 83, while 67 was the highest in the control (regular curriculum) group. Conversely, the lowest score in the experimental group was 32, while the lowest score was 26 in the control group. So, the experimental group performed better overall in the study.
Retrieving data ...