Crystal Atlantique

This site, Crystal Atlantique, outlines a research project on ethnomathematics.  The three main goals of the research are stated as:

  1. What mathematics is already present in the disenfranchised cultures (both traditional and modern)?
  2. What conflicts exist between the everyday mathematics in these cultures and Western school mathematics?
  3. How can this mathematical knowledge be incorporated into the learning and teaching of mathematics in school setttings?

The research progress states that the first year was dedicated to conversations with a mathematics teacher and five elders from Mi’kmaq community.  The tone of the site is respectful and includes other disenfranchised cultures (such as franophone communities).  There are also valuable links within this site to work done by David Wagner, an associate professor at the University of New Brunswick, on ethnomathematics.

As I search deeper into what information is available on the internet connecting mathematics and Indigenous people, I am made increasingly aware of the positive results found by applying ethnomathematics principles to mathematics instruction.  Helping students become aware of the depth of mathematical ability and the authentic prevalence of mathematics within their cultures is very powerful.  This site is one example of this type of research.

October 19, 2012   No Comments

You can’t just “add culture and stir”

The title of this post is a quote from the paper How to tell the difference between multicultural mathematics and ethnomathematics (Eglash, 2001).  The paper is from the NCTM 2001 national meeting and identifies the difference between adding trite, multicultural comments into mathematics questions and truly understanding the idea of ethnomathematics.  The goal of ethnomathematics is to place mathematics learning in authentic contexts for specific populations.  The paper is written from the perspective of ethnic minorities in the United States, however it extrapolates well to the discussion of mathematics and Indigenous students.  The paper states that:

… ethnomathematics directly challenges the cultural stereotypes and genetic myths most damaging to both minority and majority ethnic groups.” (p. 2)

October 4, 2012   No Comments


Ethno-Math is a site that outlines ethno-mathematics and a related study done at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, BC.  The study was designed to investigate whether making math content more culturally relevant and reflective of different styles of learning would improve First Nations and aboriginal student success in mathematics.  A synopsis of ethno-mathematics, as found on the site, states:

“Briefly, ethno-mathematics applies a socio-cultural perspective to math allowing a new means to view student success, curriculum content, historical contributions and educational practices. For example, native content is integrated into problems and indigenous people’s contributions to mathematics are acknowleged.”

The site outlines the project that CNC undertook, as well as a pdf file containing the full final report.  The study refers to the idea that many students see math as neutral and outside of culture.  However, while recognizing students’ viewpoints, the study proposes that “there should be a more explicit discussion with students about the contributions of different cultural groups to the history and practice of mathematics: mathematics does exist in a cultural context” (McGregor & MacMillan, 2004).  I felt that the discussion relating to neutrality and the influence of culture on learning mathematics fit well within the overall discussions for Module 1.


McGregor, C. & MacMillan, P. (2004).  Program evaluation of Math030 (ethno-math).  Retrieved online at


September 15, 2012   No Comments