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Addressing inequities in maths learning

NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Alberta Teachers’ Association in Canada have established a partnership to explore strategies to address inequities in mathematics, with a focus on indigenous and immigrant learners.

Last March a group from the ATA visited schools in Auckland and Wellington to observe the results of Professor Roberta (Bobbie) Hunter’s work, Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities.

In October, NZEI’s then-President Louise Green, Dr Hunter and four Porirua principals and teachers visited schools in Alberta as part of the three-year project.

Green said the project was about teachers engaging in research around their own practice in a way that wasn’t “inward gazing”.

“We’re sharing learning along the way and being challenged by people who don’t know our context.”

Debriefing after the trip, the Porirua group agreed that a leadership inquiry, through mathematics and based on culturally responsive practice at key transition points would be beneficial to students, teachers and leaders across the Porirua Cluster. The focus will be on how to implement and sustain change.

Dr Hunter is enthusiastic about supporting this inquiry and assisting with the research component.  In her culturally-tailored approach – dubbed ‘Bobbie maths’- pupils work together to solve problems.

NZEI past president Louise Green with the four Porirua principals and teachers who travelled to Canada to learn about a maths strategy. From left, Louise Green, Michele Whiting, Corinna School; Sose Annandale, Russell School; Kathleen O’Hare, Maraeroa School; Susan Arthur, Maraeroa School.

This involves using culturally-tailored mathematical concepts, such as referring to the dimensions of a tapa cloth or the weight of a taro. This approach has been found to be a major factor in breaking down cultural barriers that can inhibit Pasifika children from engaging and achieving in maths.