At the start of the course I defined Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP) as using teaching strategies that reflect the needs of students in a classroom. It would be easy to think of CRP meaning that you have a couple of questions related to the content of your students cultures, examples based on the “real world” and many a fluff assignment that has the students researching mathematics in their cultures based on the unit, toss in a bit of Indigenous content, dazzle it with a few pieces of language, and have a 30-second blip about historical content, mix all these together and BAM! you have a culturally responsive lesson. Right?! I mean what else can you be missing…well you might be missing authentic pieces of culture but its math a numbers are just numbers. You could also be missing out on traditional knowledge, respect of ways of knowing, and the importance of language, but none of this should matter because mathematics is the same regardless of where you learn it, 2+2 will always equal 4.
There are people who believe they use CRP, but they may be going about it in the wrong way. CRP is not something that is done without learning how to meet the needs of your students in an authentic, and purposeful way. During the past three weeks I have grown in three areas; authentic integration of culture, understanding global and historical perspectives of mathematics, and Indigenous education.
Authentic integration of culture come in two parts; recognizing tokenism and planning for deeper, meaningful lessons. Shana did an activity with us the second day, where we analyzed questions in math textbooks, providing evidence on the lack of culturally diverse views. When designing your lessons to have CRP, you need to think about the culture you are responding to, using ethnomathematics you can respond to different groups of students using activities, examples, and assessments that reflect cultures, interests, and hobbies.
Mathematics is taught all over the world and has been around since the beginning of time. But the mathematics taught around the world is not the same, in chapter one of “Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education” by Swetz (2009). Mathematics allows a variety of understandings to connect together to explain something or to solve a problem. Understand the history and historical connection behind mathematics provides students with a why, which gives meaning to the math they are learning.
Indigenous education was a big focus for me throughout the class. Two big pieces of Indigenous education are place-based learning and the use of stories in the classroom. While these two strategies are both thought of as Indigenous ways of knowing, they are beneficial and inclusive of all students learning styles.
CRP is when you respond to the needs of your students by understanding their culture and looking outside the traditional understanding of what mathematics is, pushing the boundaries of the box, and challenging your own ways of learning to push your students.
Swetz, F.J., (2009). In B. Greer et al., Culturally responsive mathematics education. (pp. 22) New York: Routledge.