Residential schools – Stolen Generation

Weblog 4.1

The material on residential schooling and its impacts has many parallels to Australian Aboriginal (and some Torres Strait islander) peoples’ experiences in Australia. In Australia from the late 1800s to the 1970s, children were removed from their families and either placed in institutions or adopted by non-indigenous families. This is called the Stolen Generation.

The Australian public were encouraged to believe that Aboriginal children were at risk in their communities and were disadvantaged, so this forced removal would provide them with better education, a more loving family and more civilised upbringing. The reality was that it was a governmental attempt to assimilate. Even the teaching opportunities were limited and the idea was to create a serving class. Many children with an Aboriginal mother and Anglo-saxon father were specifically targeted.

After Heather’s talk (not being a school teacher) I explored what the Australian teaching curriculum was about the Stolen Generation. This lead me to the:

  • amazing resource Scootle that provides resources and teaching plans.

What I couldn’t find was any parallels of Heather’s resource for Indigenous children for teaching.

November 17, 2012   1 Comment

Culturally Relational Education in and With an Indigenous Community

Culturally Relational Education in and With an Indigenous Community is an article that appears in ‘in education‘ and open source, peer reviewed journal created by the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina.  The article details research into improving mathematics learning in Indigenous communities.  The authors used a “culturally relational” approach which involved listening to and interacting with the members of the community.  The article details different approaches to improving mathematics learning and related research approaches.

November 15, 2012   No Comments

Decolonizing Methodologies and Indigenous Knowledge

The full name of the paper is Decolonizing Methodologies and Indigenous Knowledge: The Role of Culture, Place and Personal Experience in Professional Development.  The pdf can be found here.  The paper discusses the attitudes of teachers to including Indigenous knowledge in their curriculum before and after a presentation on indigenous Hawai’ian science topics.

The paper was very hopeful, indicating that it is possible to change teachers’ attitudes towards including Indigenous knowledge.  What was even more interesting, was that the researcher cited Linda Smith’s (1999) book on Decolonizing Methodologies.  The author states that, “Linda Smith (1999), a Maori researcher, describes 25 decolonizing research projects to recover marginalized cultural knowledge, practices, and identity.” (Chinn, 2007; p. 1252).  Chinn (2007) then identifies five of these decolonizing methods that she used in the research.  A very interesting article and study on a variety of levels, and one that ties in math, science and Module 3’s theme of decolonization.


Chinn, P. W. U. (2007).  Decolonizing methodologies and indigenous knowledge: The role of culture, place and personal experience in professional development.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Volume 44, No. 9, p. 1247 – 1268.  Retrieved online at:

Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. NewYork: Zed Books Ltd.



October 23, 2012   No Comments

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

Ancient African Math/Science Shatters Stereotypes

I found that this site fit beautifully into the topics for Module 2.  It is a blog posting from 2007 but it provided links to both a documentary on Africa called Cosmic Africa and to an article called Stars of the Sahara (full text available from the UBC Library) in New Scientist regarding finding evidence in Mali of the scientific and mathematics history of that area.  The two are tied together in the blog and the originator of the documentary, an Astrophysicist from South Africa named Thebe Medupe is quote extensively.  Although these quotes originate from Africa, they sound similar to some of the concerns that arise around math, science and stereotypes of North American Indigenous populations.

For example, Medupe is quoted as saying:

“…when I was 15, I started to question why everything was Eurocentric.  Textbooks were using European things and so on. So I used to ask myself whether it was because there was nothing Africa can offer. I refused to believe that. It remained a very big question for me for a long time, until I came across a review on African ethnoastronomy. I was very excited.”

October 13, 2012   No Comments

Native American Complexity

Computation, Complexity and Coding in Native American Knowledge Systems by Ron Eglash

I found this article/paper interesting because it delves deeply into the science and mathematics of a number of Native American peoples.  This is background knowledge that is useful to me as an upper level math teacher as I can use the examples authentically in class and tie them in to the curriculum.  I also found this article interesting because it begins with a discussion of stereotypes and assumptions that are common in the portrayal of Native Americans.  The following is a quote from the first paragraph:

“We see these assumptions at work in many popular television documentaries, where one hears of the “vanishing native” who “lived at one with nature.”  … We need to take special efforts to open our eyes to the dynamic histories and technological sophistication of indigenous cultures–for example, to think about active indigenous ecological knowledge rather than the passive portraits we so often hear, e.g. “Indians lived as part of the ecosystem.” ” (Eglash, 2002)

I think it is important to fight the common stereotypes by contradicting them with information about how sophisticated Indigenous knowledge systems were (and are), in a way that places those systems in context and respects the values associated with them.  This article dovetails with my research interests and with the emphasis of Module 2.


Eglash, Ron. “Computation, Complexity and Coding in Native American Knowledge Systems.” in Judith Hankes and Gerald Fast (ed) Changing the Faces of Mathematics: Perspectives on Indigenous People of North America. Reston, VA: NCTM 2002.  Retrieved online at:



October 5, 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

Does Math Education … Devalue Indigenous Culture?

This research paper, Does Mathematics Education in Australia Devalue Indigenous Culture? Indigenous Perspectives and non-Indigenous Reflections (Baturo, Cooper, Matthews & Watego; 2005) has a unique perspective.  Two of the researchers are Indigenous people and two of the researchers are not.  The paper is written using two different fonts – each font representing one of the perspectives.  The paper states that:

… it is likely that a stereotypical belief in the primitiveness of Indigenous culture is the driving force behind the actions of mathematics teachers, educators and researchers who work in Indigenous communities” (p. 514)

I need to read and review this paper in greater depth, but I feel that it matches both my research interests and the emphasis of Module 2 on stereotypes.



October 4, 2012   No Comments

Janet’s Statement of Connection

As a math teacher, I am continually aware of the under-representation of aboriginal students in more academic math courses and the over-representation of aboriginal students in lower level math courses.  This is an issue because mathematics is a key entry requirement into many programs at the post-secondary level. Low success rates in mathematics, particularly in the academic math courses, restricts choices for aboriginal students and has a direct impact on the number of aboriginal students in health related careers, business and science.

My weblogs will be focussed around finding ways to support aboriginal students in mathematics, as well as how technology might fit into this support.  Finding ways to authentically use and promote aboriginal mathematics in the classroom will be one area of research.  Researching ways that First Nations peoples have traditionally taught and learned and how our classrooms might be adapted to support these styles of learning will be a second area of research.  At this point for my final project, I am looking at creating a compilation of resources, research and links that can act as a resource for classroom teachers, with the ultimate goal of supporting our aboriginal and First Nations students in mathematics.

Janet Barker

September 21, 2012   No Comments

Aboriginal Perspectives

Aboriginal Perspectives is a site dedicated to providing teachers with lessons, videos, games and workshops that include Aboriginal content and focus.  Each of the videos is of a First Nations person or persons, from different age groups, and is accompanied by lesson plan suggestions.  This site is a joint venture between the University of Regina and the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program.

September 17, 2012   No Comments