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Research Paper

Developing student character using ethnomathematical approach base on local wisdom in

learning mathematics

By Muzakkir

Indonesia is a large country that has a diversity of cultures, traditions, languages, religions,
ethnics, and beliefs. The cultural diversity and the complexity of community life have both
positive and negative impacts on national unity. Positively, the plurality of tribes, languages, and
religions gives pride to the unique cultural diversity of Indonesia that reflects the cultural values
and the character of the nation are well preserved. However, these cultural values and characters
have not succeeded in developing the collective consciousness of this nation to recognize that this
diversity is a wealth and common property that must always be explored, developed and
maintained together (Yaumi, 2014). Culture is something inherent in every human being, so the
existence of culture is an important part of life and it is the foundation of the character of the
nation that must be developed by everyone. In the process of teaching and learning in the
classroom, the teachers should use the culture as a media in the learning process so that the
developed concept will be completely immersed in the student life.
One of the factors that caused the low learning outcomes of learners is mechanistic
learning without related the mathematics with the reality of life. Mathematics is scary and causes
a lot of anxiety for a lot of students. According to Clawson (1991), there are six myths that cause
major problems. These six myths are (1) math is boring, (2) math is difficult, (3) math is too
precise, (4) some people are math types; I’m not, (5) women aren’t mathematically inclined, and
(6) math is not relevant to my life. These six myths are inherited from parent to their child.
Eventually, these myths become a difficult disease to be healed. These problems need to be
tackled by mathematics teachers.
As stated by Zulkaryadi (2002), the process of teaching mathematics in Indonesia has a big
problem. Many students still think mathematics is an evil (momok in Indonesia), although they
learn mathematics for twelve years. Besides all these phenomena the need for mathematics in the
Indonesian educational system is crucial for students. Mathematics is a requirement for
graduating from one level to the next level. Mathematics becomes more important if the students
want to continue their study at the university level, especially if they choose a favorite program.
This is why mathematics is an important subject in the Indonesian educational system.
The students’ environments are an important factor that needs to be taken into
consideration when designing the lesson plan. If the teachers separate teaching process and
students real life situation, students will assume that mathematics is not important and necessary
in their life. They will assume mathematics as an external thing that is not related to their real life
situation (Munif 2009). As Frudental said, mathematics is human activity and students are not
passive receivers of ready-made mathematics (De Lange 1987). Many problems in students’ real
life situation can be incorporated into the teaching and learning of mathematics, to make
mathematics teaching more interesting for students.
Learners as part of the community that included in formal education have a different
background of knowledge that has been formed since being in the community environment
including in family life. Indirectly, the activities performed in the daily life utilize the concept of
mathematics. For the example the habit of praying five times a day, shopping habits and so forth.
The habits that indicate the culture of the surrounding community that associated with
mathematical concepts is known as ethnomathematics, because ethnomathematics is a
mathematical form that influenced by or based on culture.
Ethnomathematics is a mathematic approach that grows and develops in certain cultures of
society. The utilizing of the students’ habits experienced and relating them to the mathematical
concepts will provide the benefits of learning mathematics. The people often do not realize that
they have used math in their life. Thus, it should be pointed out that in daily life of the
community, especially the learners are familiar with math and mathematics are very useful in
everyday life. If they realize the benefits of math by themselves they will be motivated to learn
The ethnomathematics development began with the formation of the International
Study Group on Ethnomathematics in 1985 at a meeting of the National Council of Teachers
of Mathematics (NCTM) in San Antonio, Texas under the leadership of its founder, the
Brazilian mathematician and philosopher, Dr. Ubiratan D'Ambrosio. The term
ethnomathematics was first used by D'Ambrosio in many of his writings and speeches to
explain the relationship that exists between cultural practices in relation to the development
and use of mathematical ideas or concepts. The Ethnomathematics Program considers a
concept of mathematics which includes a critical, moral, holistic, and global perspective. That is
a mathematics curriculum that walks the mystical way with practical feet.
Ethnomathematics is an application of mathematical ideas and practices to the problems
that confronted people in the past or encountered in present contemporary culture (D’Ambrosio,
2001). Much of what we call modern mathematics came about as diverse cultural groups sought
to resolve unique problems such as exploration, colonization, communications, and
construction of railroads, census data, space travel, and other problems- solving techniques that
arose from specific communities. More than ten years ago, the National Academy of Sciences
(1994) reported that cultural variables have strongly influenced how students consider
themselves as human beings, how they came to understand the world and interpret their own
and others experiences. Simply put, culture affects the ways we acquire and use our own
mathematical knowledge. In attempting to create and integrate mathematical materials related to
different cultures that draw on students’ own experiences in an instructional mathematics
curriculum, we believe that it is possible to apply the ethnomathematical approach in teaching
and learning mathematics.
This research will focus on how Ethnomatematical approach will build a students’
character. Base on national Indonesia curriculum, the students’ characters are focused on
religious, Nationality, Independent, Mutual work, and integrity. All these characters build in
teaching and learning process. Students’ character is a solution for moral depravity among
students today. In the present times, teaching and learning mathematics at school just focusing
on cognitive aspect and ignoring mathematics value. After learning mathematics for 12 years,
the students did not have the characters that national curriculum needed.
This research will use a Research and development method, where the output of this
research are; 1). Module for teaching and learning process using ethnomatematical approach 2)
validation instrument. 3). Instrument for character. The sample for this research are the
students senior high school in Pidie District. The sample will take randomly. This research will
collaborative with the teachers as a practice, government as a policy maker, and the lecture as
an academic.
References :

D’Ambrosio, U. (2001). What is ethnomathematics and how can it help children in

schools. Teaching Children Mathematics. 7(6), 308-310.
Yaumi, Muhammad. 2006. Using Distance Education to deliver English Instruction in Indonesia.
Graduated Research paper. UNI. USA
Clawson, C. C. 1999. Conquerig Math Phobia. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Canada
Zulkardi. 2002. “Pendidikan Realistik Matematika Indonesia Perkembangan dan Permasalahan”.
Makalah disampaikan pada tanggal 22-25 Juli 2002, Malang.
Munif. C. 2009. Sekolahnya Manusia. Kaifa. Bandung
De Lange, J. 1987. Mathematics Insight and Meaning. Utrecht: OW & CO.