In this monthly column, we speak with a notable member of the mathematics education community about their work and their perspectives on the teaching and learning of mathematics. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden, who we look forward to welcoming this fall as a SUM Conference 2017 keynote presenter.
Lisa Lunney Borden is an Associate Professor of mathematics education at St. Francis Xavier University in Canada with a particular focus on Equity in Mathematics. Having taught 7-12 mathematics in a Mi’kmaw community, she credits her students and the community for helping her to think differently about mathematics teaching and learning. She is committed to research that focuses on decolonizing mathematics education through culturally based practices and experiences that are rooted in Aboriginal languages and knowledge systems. Lisa is equally committed to mathematics outreach through programs such as Show Me Your Math that was developed with David Wagner, Newell Johnson, and a team of teachers from Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey schools. This program invites Indigenous youth to find the mathematical reasoning inherent in their own community context. Lisa is a sought after speaker on Indigenous mathematics education, working with mathematics educators across Canada as well as internationally.
First things first: Thank you for taking the time for this interview!
Your research, coming on the heels of 10 years of teaching mathematics in a Mi’kmaw school in We’koqma’q, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, focuses on culturally responsive mathematics curriculum and pedagogy. You have paid particular attention to the role that language plays in the teaching and learning of mathematics, and in particular, to ways in which shifting the language in our classrooms can support Aboriginal students in learning mathematics (e.g., Lunney Borden, 2011, 2013). For example, in Lunney Borden (2011), you describe the strategy of ‘verbifying’ mathematics—in other words, shifting your way of explaining concepts to be more consistent with the verb-based linguistic structures of Mi’kmaq—as a way of supporting Mi’kmaw students in mathematics learning.
How might teachers of Aboriginal students in other parts of the country (e.g., Saskatchewan), or more generally of students whose home language is not English, apply this work to their own local contexts? Continue reading