Rich and purposeful mathematical knowledge of mothers and children in a Torres Strait Islander community

Ewing, Bronwyn F. (2014) Rich and purposeful mathematical knowledge of mothers and children in a Torres Strait Islander community. SpringerPlus, 3(42).

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This paper focuses on a pilot study that explored the situated mathematical knowledge of mothers and children in one Torres Strait Islander community in Australia. The community encouraged parental involvement in their children’s learning and schooling. The study explored parents’ understandings of mathematics and how their children came to learn about it on the island. A funds of knowledge approach was used in the study. This approach is based on the premise that people are competent and have knowledge that has been historically and culturally accumulated into a body of knowledge and skills essential for their functioning and well-being (Moll, 1992). The participants, three adults and one child are featured in this paper. Three separate events are described with epiphanic or illuminative moments analysed to ascertain the features that enabled an understanding of the nature of the mathematical events. The study found that Indigenous ways of knowing of mathematics were deeply embedded in rich cultural practices that were tied to the community. This finding has implications for teachers of children in the early years. Where school mathematics is often presented as disembodied and isolated facts with children seeing little relevance, learning a different perspective of mathematics that is tied to the resources and practices of children’s lives and facilitated through social relationships, may go a long way to improving the engagement of children and their parents in learning and schooling.

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ID Code: 66317
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
DOI: 10.1186/2193-1801-3-42
ISSN: 2193-1801
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori) (130102)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy (130208)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education (130301)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Teacher Education & Leadership
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Ewing; licensee Springer.
Copyright Statement: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction
in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Deposited On: 19 Jan 2014 23:56
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2017 03:17

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