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Unique Indigenous maths program connects students

​North Coast Region’s Murri Maths has engaged students who otherwise would not enjoy maths

Strength of identity, connection to country, place... and maths may seem like an unlikely combination but it's a formula that's engaging Indigenous students from Prep to Year 10.

One of the driving forces behind the Murri Maths Connecting to Country resource, North Coast Region Indigenous Education Manager Nicole Simone, said the program was borne from a desire to share histories and cultures with all students and staff.

"The Murri Maths resource is a place-based approach to support teachers in their cultural capability of delivering the cross curriculum priority, embedding histories and cultures within the Australian Curriculum Mathematics," she said.

"In practical terms what this means is teachers use traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge together with the Australian Curriculum to engage students.

"For example, the resource suggests more than 40 ways to facilitate mathematical thinking outdoors. This often begins with a narrative, land links and connection to country and identifying the maths in Aboriginal culture."

Ms Simone said Murri Maths further enhanced a place-based approach to the Australian curriculum mathematics.

"While there are lots of resources for schools to implement Aboriginal perspectives in other areas of the curriculum there was nothing that was sharing the connection between culture and maths," she said.

"Teachers can present an image, share a story, play a game, encourage student interest to grow and peak, and facilitate conversation about the mathematics evident in culture.

"One section identifies traditional language words in the local language/s, which demonstrates mathematics was an everyday practice in traditional First Nations communities."

Barambah Environmental Education Centre principal Sue-ellen Gibson said the Murri Maths program, facilitated by Ms Simone, was well received at an Indigenous Leadership Camp for Year 6 and 7 students.

"The students were highly engaged in the experiences and were able to participate in a way that met their individual needs and strengths," Ms Gibson said.

"At the beginning of the session Ms Simone asked students 'Who loves maths?' There were 4 students who raised their hands.

"At the end of the session, students were asked 'Now who loves maths?' There were 28 students who raised their hands with one student asking 'What? Was that maths?'."

The resource was developed in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers, Elders, Traditional Custodians and curriculum professionals across the North Coast Region.

Ms Simone was a finalist in the CSIRO 2018 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM Professional Awards for her leadership in the development of Murri Maths Connecting to Country.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
Last updated
13 May 2019