by Michele Y. Washington
Click to hear Ron Eglash’s presentation.
Our final keynote speaker brilliantly closed out GLIDE10 on his continuous investigation on Culture and Science in the sphere of indigenous and vernacular cultures existing within the United States ethnic communities such as Asian, Latin American and African American. Ron gives an in-depth explanation of global indigenous cultures to dispel numerous myths that exist of such groups as being backwards, primitive and illiterate. This raises several fundamental issues of cultural sensitivity, and he provides specific examples from one project featured on his website on the process of mapping out Native American asymmetrical and symmetrical beading systems. For another project you can sample an example of African Architectural typology replicated through the application of African Fractals, an organic branching structure referencing nature.
This African Fractals project offers clear cut examples of his teaching methods applied in the cultural significance of the ancestral origins of cornrows for Black American students in high schools. His goal was to challenge the students to investigate the issues that surrounded the Black Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Americas and Caribbean, students were able to identify hygiene, resistance, retaining ones culture identity linking their own cornrow hairstyles to its origins. Other examples of paring the musicality of Hip-hop provide a broader sensibility of the connection as to why they wear this hairstyle. He’s developed a computation where he feeds in various iterations of how many plaits are in one braid. According to Ron, such concepts can be applied to other ethnic groups to gain a better understanding of the ancestral heritage. The Cultural expression opens the door to engage students to consider the various modalities of the design patterns replicated by cornrow hairstyles, which blurs the line between indigenous and vernacular design. He also looks at graffiti as a form of vernacular stereotyping. Ends his talk on Puerto Rican youth rooted to challenge the students through mathematical computation of Spanish music through rhythms and beats of the music. Summary of what limits racial intelligence, he states, while no one wants to talk about it, the thoughts loom in the back of many educators and peoples mind.
What part of collective memory fuels some of this iconic bead work, rug design, totems that are also evident in other global cultures such as Africans, Aboriginal, India, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries?
Defeating myths of cultural determinism
Using mathematics to bridge cultural gaps
Making cultural capital more available to its owners (individuals) Educational capital
Looking at new forms of hybridity for learning Peace and social justice efforts
Making contributions to mathematics, and inspirations Challenges:
Not all modeling of culture involves translation of indigenous or vernacular knowledge. Ethnomath: provide more evidences of application of knowledge Interesting concept over cultural ownership of whose holds on to authentic cultural heritage for example, Shawnee Native Americans. Alternative methods for kids to go from consumers to producers, makers by apply the discovery as a learning method.
Take a look at Ron presentation at TED.COM