Math in Cultural Context:
Potential contribution of indigenous knowledge to teaching and learning mathematics

Organizer: Erich Kasten

From 10-18 October 2015, the concluding workshop on the research project "Math in Cultural Context," under the auspices of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, was held at the Foundation for Siberian Cultures by Erich Kasten. The project ran from 2012 to 2015 and was funded by the National Science Foundation. Participants at the workshop included Jerry Lipka and David Koester from Fairbanks, Alaska (USA) as well as Kattie Egede Motzfeldt (Nuuk, Greenland), Pauline Kristiansen (Qaanaaq, Greenland), Dora Andrew-
Ihrke (Dillingham, Alaska) and Lidiya Chechulina (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski, Russia).
During this workshop, preliminary results of the individual research groups with regard to mathematical knowledge in handicrafts were discussed with indigenous experts of the Yup'ik, Greenlandic Inuit, and Koryak. They demonstrated, using sampling pieces, the fabrication of clothing and the design of ornaments. Mathematical concepts encoded therein were identified and discussed cross-culturally.
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The cultural exchange among the seamstresses was not confined only to sewing techniques and underlying mathematical concepts. It also encompassed additional fields of their indigenous knowledge, such as those expressed in songs and dances.  » more

Initial results relating to Kamchatka have been summarized in an article by Erich Kasten. Also provided are learning tools for sustaining those handicrafts that contain particular mathematical knowledge of these peoples.  » more

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