Skip to main content

Sami Culture and Values: A Study of the National Mathematics Exam for the Compulsory School in Norway

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 December 2013


Norway ratified the ILO convention 169 concerning indigenous and tribal people in independent countries in 1990. In accordance with the convention the education programs for the Sami shall address their value systems and their cultural aspirations. Our aim is to investigate the implementation of this convention. The focus is on how Sami values are reflected in the national mathematics exam for the compulsory school. In Sami traditional knowledge the term “knowledge” means knowledge as a process, not just the final outcome of a process. The tasks are analyzed with respect to four different Sami values. We present an overview of one complete exam and more profound analyses of three selected tasks. The analyses reveal that the tasks more or less reflect some Sami values. A stronger focus on modeling problems in school mathematics may open up for forms of teaching that focus on Sami values to a larger extent than today.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. 1.

    The Sami pupils in Norway can choose between three versions of Sami language education: Sami as the first language, Sami as the second language or Sami as a foreign language.

  2. 2.

    Udir got permission from to use these pictures for the examination, but not for further distribution (phone call with G. Brogstad). Hence, this task is not presented in the paper.


  1. Aikio, A. (2010). Olmmošhan gal birge: áššit mat ovddidit birgema. Kárášjohka: ČálliidLágadus.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Ascher, M. (1991). Ethnomathematics. A multicultural view of mathematical ideas. Belmont: Wadsworth Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Berkes, F. (2008). Sacred ecology. Routledge: Taylor & Francis.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bishop, A. J. (1988). Mathematics education in its cultural context. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 19, 179–191.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bishop, A. J. (2012). From culture to well-being: a partial story of values in mathematics education. ZDM, 44, 3–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Blomhøj, M. (2006). Mod en didaktisk teori for matematisk modellering. In O. Skovsmose & M. Blomhøj (Eds.), Kunne det tænkes?—om matematiklæring (pp. 80–109). Albertslund: Forlaget Malling Beck A/S.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Cai, J. (2005). US and Chinese teachers’ constructing, knowing, and evaluating representations to teach mathematics. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 7(2), 135–169.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Cai, J., & Garber, T. (2012). Teaching values and valued teaching in the mathematics classroom: Toward a research agenda. ZDM, 44, 91–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Clarke, D. (1996). Assessment. In A. J. Bishop, K. Clements, C. Keitel, J. Kilpatrick, & C. Laborde (Eds.), International handbook of mathematics education (pp. 327–370). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Darnell, F., & Hoëm, A. (1996). Taken to extremes. Education in the far north. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Eriksen, T. Hylland. (1997). Kultur, kommunikasjon og makt. In T. Hylland Eriksen (Ed.), Flerkulturell forståelse (pp. 53–66). Oslo: Tano Aschehoug.

    Google Scholar 

  12. FAD, Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs (2013). Sami languages. Retrieved Nov 22, 2013, from

  13. Freudenthal, H. (1991). Revisiting mathematics education. China lectures. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Gaup Eira, I. M. & Nystad, K. (2005). Overføring av tradisjonell kunnskap. In Samisk språkopplæring og modulbasert opplæring. Rapport fra seminaret i Tromsø 22–23.2.05 (pp. 18–20). Sámi Allaskuvla og Fylkesmannen i Troms.

  15. Høgmo, A. (1989). Norske idealer og Samisk virkelighet: om skoleutvikling i det Samiske området. Oslo: Gyldendal.

  16. ILO, The International Labour Organisation (1989). C169 Indigenous and tribal peoples convention. Retrieved Nov 22, 2013, from

  17. Kawagley, A. O. (1996). Alaska native education research requires that we reach into the profound silence of self to know. Topics in Arctic Social Sciences, 2, 29–36.

    Google Scholar 

  18. KD, Ministry of Education and Research (2007a). KunnskapsløftetSamisk (LK06S). Retrieved Nov 22, 2013, from

  19. KD, Ministry of Education and Research (2007b). Prinsipper for opplæringen i KunnskapsløftetSamisk. Retrieved Nov 22, 2013, from

  20. KD, Ministry of Education and Research (2007c). Curricula in english. Retrieved Nov 22, 2013, from

  21. Klausen, A. M. (1992). Kultur. Mønster og kaos. Oslo: Ad Notam Gyldendal A/S.

    Google Scholar 

  22. KUF, Ministry of Church, Education and Research (1997). Det Samiske læreplanverket for den 10-årige grunnskolen. N: Sámi oahppahusráðði/Samisk utdanningsråd.

  23. Lehtola, V. P. (2013). Allmenn informasjon. Gáldu. Resource centre for the right of indigenous peoples. Retrieved Nov 22, 2013, from

  24. Lindholm, T. (1997). Kultur, verdier og menneskerettigheter. In T. Hylland Eriksen (Ed.), Flerkulturell forståelse (pp. 67–89). Oslo: Tano Aschehoug.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Lipka, J., Andrew-Ihrke, D., & Yanez, E. E. (2011). Yup’ik cosmology to school mathematics: The power of symmetry and proportional measuring. Interchange, 42(2), 157–183.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Lipka, J., Webster, J. P., & Yanez, E. E. (2005). Factors that affect alaska native students’ mathematical performance. Journal of American Indian Education, 44(3), 1–8.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Lovdata (1990). Lov om Sametinget og andre samiske rettsforhold (Sameloven). Chapter 3, samisk språk. (The Sami act. Chapter three, Sami language). Retrieved Nov 22, 2013, from

  28. Namukasa, I. (2004). School mathematics in the era of globalization. Interchange, 35(2), 209–227.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Niss, M., Blum, W., & Galbraith, P. (2007). Introduction. In New ICMI study series, 1, vol. 10, modelling and applications in mathematics education, part 1 (pp. 3–32). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.

  30. Nutti, Y. J. (2007). Matematiskt tankesätt inom den samiska kulturen. Utifrån samiska slöjdares och renskötares berättelser. Licentiatuppsats. Luleå University of Technology.

  31. Nutti, Y. J. (2013). Indigenous teachers’ experiences of the implementation of culture-based mathematics activities in Sámi School. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 25, 57–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Nystad, I. M. K. (2003). Mannen mellom myte og modernitet. Nesbru: Vett og viten. (Master thesis, University of Tromsø, Faculty of social sciences).

  33. Nystad K., Spein A. R. & Ingstad B. (Forthcoming) Community resilience factors among indigenous Sámi adolescents: A qualitative study in Northern Norway, Transcultural Psychiatry (Special Issue).

  34. Pais, A., & Valero, P. (2011). Beyond disavowing the politics of equity and quality in mathematics education. In B. Atweh, M. Graven, W. Secada, & P. Valero (Eds.), Mapping equity and quality in mathematics education (pp. 35–48). Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Sara, M. N. (2003). Tradisjonell Samisk kunnskap i grunnskolen. In V. Hirvonen (Ed.), Samisk skole i plan og praksis: hvordan møte utfordringene i L97S? evaluering av Reform 97 (pp. 114–130). Kautokeino: Samisk Høgskole.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Schukajlow, S., Leiss, D., Pekrun, R., Blum, W., Müller, M., & Messner, R. (2012). Teaching methods for modelling problems and students’ task-specific enjoyment, value, interest and self-efficacy expectations. Educational studies in mathematics, 79(2), 215–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Skovsmose, O. (2005). Travelling through education. Uncertainty, Mathematics, Responsibility. Rotterdam: Sense.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Skovsmose, O. (2011). An invitation to critical mathematics education. Rotterdam: Sense.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  39. Star, J. R. (2005). Reconceptualising procedural knowledge. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 36(5), 404–411.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Todal, J. (2012). Samisk språk i barnehage og skule 2011/2012. In E. G. Broderstad, M. Brustad, K. Johansen, P. I. Severeide, & J. Todal (Eds.), Samiske tall forteller. Kommentert samisk statistikk 2012. Raporta/Rapport 1, 2012 (pp. 104–116). Kautokeino: Sámi Allaskuvla/Sámi University College.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Udir, The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (2009). Evaluering av matematikkeksamener vår 2009MAT0010 og REA3022. Rambøll management consulting og ILS, Institutt for lærerutdanning og skoleutvikling, University of Oslo, Norway.

  42. Udir, The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (2011). Skoleporten. Nasjonale prøver. ResultaterNasjonale prøver ungd. trinn. Retrieved Nov 22, 2013, from

  43. Udir, The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (2012). Kjennetegn på måloppnåelse. Retrieved Nov 22, 2013, from

  44. Winchester, I. (2013). On seeing our deepest intellectual, educational and practical traditions from a non-western perspective. Interchange, Online first.

  45. Zvorono, V. (2011). En sammenlignende studie av norske og russiske eksamensoppgaver med logaritmer. En analyse av eksamensoppgaver med kognitive kategorier som redskap. Mastergradsoppgave i matematikk, lektorutdanning (Master thesis). Univertsity of Tromsø, Faculty of Science and Technology.

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anne Birgitte Fyhn.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Fyhn, A.B. Sami Culture and Values: A Study of the National Mathematics Exam for the Compulsory School in Norway. Interchange 44, 349–367 (2013).

Download citation


  • Indigenous
  • Value
  • Sami
  • Exam
  • Culture
  • Mathematics