The program of activities is consistent with the Philosophy of Yumi Deadly Maths (YDM), developed by the Yumi Deadly Centre[1]. This approach promotes the idea that mathematics is an abstraction of everyday life, which empowers people to solve their problems[2]. This has led to the development of the RAMR cycle: Reality, Abstraction, Mathematics and Reflection, which involves:

  • R - Selection of a stimulus of interest to the students,
  • A - Exploration of the situation with kinaesthetic activities, building mental representations of the mathematical idea(s
  • M - Doing the Maths
  • R - Reflecting back to the students’ reality.

In our program:

  • STEM tutor holding a measuring toolR - the stimulus of interest is the bushland: How can we learn about it? What are we the animals and plants? How would Aboriginal people have managed this land? What has happened to it since colonisation?
  • A - the Kinaesthetic activities involves getting out, making observations and taking measurements that can provide the information needed to tell the story of country.
  • M - is doing the maths once the measurements are taken.
  • R - This stage is reflecting back on what the maths can tell us about the age of the bushland, the animals and plants that inhabit the area and the quality of habitat it provides, for example, in regenerated bushland, there are less mature trees to provide hollows for birds and animals.

Reflection also involves reflecting back on the day’s activities through the mapmaking exercise. This is a more explicit way of incorporating storytelling into the day, hopefully, consolidating learning and creating relationships between the different components of the environment and the day’s events.

This then begins incorporates the concepts of Indigenous Mathematician Chris Matthews[3] (2012)[4], whereby storytelling is used to create relationships between people and mathematics; By promoting the use of symbols which can later be transformed into algebraic terms, simple maths stories can be represented through Art, drama and dance.

The Indigenous Games

This activity can also be defined by the RAMR cycle

  • R – the Indigenous games themselves, wanting to learn how to play and win the games
  • A – actually playing the games and taking the scores
  • M- from the scores, working out who won
  • R – rewarding those who won.

While the program has specifically been designed to engage Indigenous students, the learning experience it gives is consistent with a new approach to education identified in a UNESCO Report[5] as essential for the 21st century, incorporating, competencies and skills, many of which are absent or in short supply in current learning processes. These are: critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative and communication skills. Thus the authors consider that this program will be beneficial for all students.

[1] The mission of the YuMi Deadly Centre (YDC) of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is to work with Indigenous and low socioeconomic status (SES) schools to enhance mathematics learning outcomes (Carter, Cooper & Anderson 2016).

[2] Sarra, G., Matthews, C., Ewing, B. F., & Cooper, T. 2011). Indigenous mathematics: Creating an equitable learning environment. In Two way teaching and learning: Toward culturally reflective and relevant education (pp. 172-185). Australian Council for Education Research.

[3] Chris Matthews heads the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance (ATSIMA), an Indigenous led, non-profit, member-based group which aims to inspire improved mathematics outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

[4]Matthews, C., 2012. Maths as storytelling: Maths is beautiful. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education: An introduction for the teaching profession, 94-112.

[5] Scott, Cynthia Luna (2015) The Futures Of Learning 2: What Kind Of Learning For The 21ST Century? Education Research and Foresight Working Papers, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, November 14th, 2015.