Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home


[Susan notes: Words are important. Good for educator and author Claudia Zaslavsky for straightening out the casual misuse of the term Ethnomathematics. ]

Submitted to Wall Street Journal but not published
06/26/2005

To the editor


Although the title of Ravitch's article is "Ethnomathematics," she completely misrepresents the field. Briefly stated, scholars of ethnomathematics examine the practice of mathematics from an anthropological point of view. They may investigate the mathematical activities engaged in by specific ethnic groups, or by people in certain occupations, such as carpentry or weaving, or by groups of children in a neighborhood.



Ethnomathematics is a field of scholarly study, not a belief system about methods of teaching mathematics. Teachers may choose to introduce aspects of ethnomathematics into their classrooms, usually with great success. For example, fifth graders I worked with developed new insights into our place value system of numeration through their study of the Inca quipu. At the same time, they gained knowledge of Inca history, art, and daily living.



Interested people may search the internet for valid publications on the subject.

Claudia Zaslavsky


FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.