Ambitious mathematics: Ratios, decimals, fractions and time for Ta’ovala
Teacher preparation for culturally responsive teaching


"It opens up from the perspective of the Tongan child, aspects of their life, and it allows other people in to understand them. If I understand you I am going to treat you more respectfully." Professor Roberta Hunter

Teacher, David Ahlquist, is using the DMIC approach to forge educationally powerful connections, in this case using a context familiar to the Tongan learners that will strengthen their mathematical knowledge and reasoning. He is also building mutual respect between Tongan students and other learners.

David demonstrates respect through his preparation. He consults with a Tongan colleague, Matilda Ngaluafe Williams, at the outset of his planning. Recognising he will not fully understand the cultural context, he is seeking her expertise as he builds his own understanding to respectfully and appropriately use the weaving of Ta’ovala as a context for mathematical reasoning.

At each stage of the lesson he is modelling the respect that he seeks to foster in his students. He is, himself, a teacher and a learner of culturally responsive practice as he draws upon Pacific expertise in the design and content of the mathematics task. In doing so, he is acknowledging and building on the rich sources of mathematics in the students’ own worlds.

David explains the ambitious mathematics that will be required of the students. The problem will require grappling with ratios, decimals, and fractions. A further challenge posed is that the students will need to grapple with how to translate their ratios into measures of time.

Find out more

Hunter R. & Hunter J. (2017). Maintaining a cultural and mathematical identity while constructing a mathematical disposition as a Pāsifika learner. In E. McKinley & L. Tuhiwai Smith (Eds.), Handbook of indigenous education (pp1-19). Singapore: Springer.

Hunter, J., Hunter, R., Anthony, G. (2019). Shifting towards equity: challenging teacher views about student capability in mathematics. Mathematics Education Research Journal.

Hunter, J. & Miller, J. (2019). The perspectives of researchers when undertaking work involving cultural contexts in mathematics education. Forthcoming in the Proceedings of the 42nd Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA). Perth: MERGA.

Hunter, J. & Sawatzki, C. (2019). Discovering diverse students’ funds of knowledge related to finance: Pāsifika students in New Zealand. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 31(4), 419-439.