Supporting Indigenous Students in Mathematical Environments

Were you born “without the math gene”? Are you mathematically resilient? Do you value the acquisition of mathematical knowledge?

Students of all cultural backgrounds come to math class with a wide range of mathematical emotions and values. As an academic Math 10 and Physics 11/12 teacher of many years, I would estimate that fewer than 2%, or about 1 in 60, of my students have been Indigenous, although 1 in 4 students at my school are Indigenous. Moreover, mathematics is often a “graduation gatekeeper”. To graduate from high school in British Columbia, students must obtain credits for a Math 11 course. Almost all Indigenous students at my school are taking Trades Math (also known as “easy math”). However, many students do not make it through, and thus do not graduate from high school.

For this project, I intend to research why Indigenous students may not choose the academic math pathways, may experience failure in the lowest level of mathematics and what non-indigenous educators can possibly do within their classrooms to help Indigenous students become mathematically resilient. It is my belief that by creating a culturally sensitive learning environment, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students will not just survive, but they will be able to maximize their true mathematical potential, thus keeping post-secondary career choices as open as possible.

This video is titled, “Supporting Indigenous Students in their learning”—all subject teachers would benefit from its general guidelines and I will be mindful of the advice given, throughout my research.

Commons search:

(indigenous OR indigeneity OR aboriginal OR “first nations”) AND (mathematics OR math OR STEM) AND (obstacles OR roadblocks OR issues OR challenges) AND (“high school” OR teenager OR teen OR adolescent)

Here is a link to my final product.


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