The role of language in ethnomathematics

Tamsin Meaney, U Fairhill, T. Trinick

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    Abstract

    Drawing on experiences from Mäori immersion schools in New Zealand, this paper examines the impact of language when ethnomathematical practices are discussed. The inclusion of ethnomathematical perspectives into the mathematics education of indigenous students is often described as being beneficial. In New Zealand, it is also perceived as supporting the revitalisation of the Mäori language, te reo Mäori. This paper will argue that cultural practices including ethnomathematical ones cannot be separated from the language in which they were developed. Changing the language or the linguistic register in which the practices are discussed will have an impact on how the practices are perceived by students. This could result in a loss in the fundamental values that would normally accompany the practices. Without proper consideration of this issue many of the benefits aligned with using these practices may be nullified.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)52-65
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Mathematics and Culture
    Volume3
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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    Meaney, T., Fairhill, U., & Trinick, T. (2008). The role of language in ethnomathematics. Journal of Mathematics and Culture, 3(1), 52-65.