Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities
Halfway through the first year of DMIC implementation, leaders and teachers from Corinna, Russell and Maraeroa Schools in Porirua talk about what they have learned that makes them more effective teachers of maths to Pasifika children.
They discuss the importance of valuing Pasifika children as Pasifika people while at the same time pushing them to overcome cultural reticence that inhibits participating and contributing. Mistakes need to be repositioned as a normal and necessary part of the learning process, not a cause for embarrassment or shame. Everyone can be a learner of, and excited by, maths.
Associate Professor Bobbie Hunter says DMIC is a teaching-as-inquiry approach. Instead of accepting deficit explanations for underachievement, teachers ask themselves what they need to do differently so that their children will learn.
Evidence in Action
- Assumptions based our own experiences and cultural mindset create barriers to learning for children who don't share them and can't relate to them
- Children learn best in environments where their identities are valued
- Teaching effectively requires forging educationally powerful connections to students' lives and identities
- Children engage productively with maths when problems are set in contexts that they can relate to and understand
- Learning requires active participation, so children from cultures that do not encourage questioning or putting forward ideas, for example, need to be actively supported to overcome these inhibitions
- Mistakes have to be repositioned as a necessary and valuable part of learning if children are to be willing to take the risks that learning entails
- Caring for students can mean making them uncomfortable by pushing them to think (pressing them for understanding) and to publicly contribute their thinking
- Pasifika students learn best in a supportive collective characterised by reciprocal benefits and responsibilities. Parallels between a whānau and a community of learners can be leveraged.
- When supposedly 'low' students are exposed to mixed-ability, challenging maths, they can surprise teachers
- Ambitious teaching gets far more out of students than low expectations
- Negative attitudes towards maths are not inevitable. Once they get over the initial shock, children love to be challenged and to be active participants in their own learning.
Key Evidence Informing Action - References
Specialist providers, principals and teachers working in New Zealand schools and early childhood services, as well as the New Zealand Ministry of Education and central government education agency staff, can contact the Ministry of Education Library for access to the key evidence. For anyone else requiring this material, you can contact your institution or local public library.
- Anthony, G., & Walshaw, M. (2010). Te ako pāngarau whaihua: Educational practices series – 19. International Academy of Education, International Bureau of Education & UNESCO.
- Anthony, G., & Walshaw, M. (2009). Effective pedagogy in mathematics: Educational practices series –19. International Academy of Education, International Bureau of Education & UNESCO.
- Anthony, G., & Walshaw, M. (2007). Effective pedagogy in mathematics/pāngarau: Best evidence synthesis iteration. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.
- Cohen, E. & Lotan, R. (2014). Designing groupwork: Strategies for the heterogeneous Classroom, (3rd ed.). Teachers College Press: New York.
- Hunter, R. (2007). Can you convince me: Learning to use mathematical argumentation. In J. Woo, H. Lew, K. Park, D. Seo (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st annual conference of the International group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, (Vol. 3, pp. 381-389). South Korea, The Korea Society of Educational Studies in Mathematics
- Hunter, J., & Back, J. (2011). Facilitating sustainable professional learning through lesson study. Mathematics Teacher Education and Development. 13 (1), 94-114.