Stemiverse 0059 – Dr. Chris Matthews on teaching mathematics through dance & story 

 October 3, 2019

By  Lina Alexaki

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Dr. Chris Matthews, Aboriginal Mathematician and Chair of ATSIMA, and Dr. Peter Dalmaris, author of Maker Education Revolution

In this episode, Dr. Peter Dalmaris talks with Dr. Chris Matthews.

Dr. Chris Matthews, a Noonuccal man, is passionate about connecting culture and mathematics, having developed a method of teaching maths to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through dance and story.

He teaches students to bring maths to life by crafting stories in which characters take actions that add, subtract, or divide.

As Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance (ATSIMA), Dr. Matthews also organizes camps and conferences designed to promote Indigenous participation in STEM and to support mathematics outcomes for Indigenous students.

Dr. Matthews highlights the importance of engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in mathematics to ensure they are prepared for life beyond school. “Maths is one of those subjects that is a gatekeeper to jobs, it gives access to other opportunities in life, and it’s important for every student,” said Dr. Matthews.

This is Stemiverse Podcast episode 59.

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Show Notes

ATSIMA 2020 Conference:

The Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance (ATSIMA) together with the Yirrkala School NT, are pleased to announce the fourth Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance (ATSIMA) Conference, 27-30 July 2020 in Yirrkala, North East Arnhem Land, NT, this will be the first mathematics education conference held in a Yolŋu Community.

ATSIMA’s previous conferences established the need to have a Revolution in mathematics education to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners. The theme for ATSIMA 2020 Nhe Waŋana Nhe Djämamirriyaŋa Speak It You Create It furthers the idea of a revolution in education. Nhe Waŋana – Speak it, refers to the importance of valuing all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in education. Nhe Djämamirriyaŋana – You create it, is about understanding important concepts embedded in languages, their relationship to mathematics and how we can create a future together.

The conference will be shaped by the philosophies that have underpinned the development of Garma Mathematics at Yirrkala Community School and, through this structure, exploration of what it means to understand mathematics from Yolŋu perspectives, including other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, and Western perspectives. From moving through these different cultural landscapes we will build stronger connections and work together to reshape Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education in mathematics.

ATSIMA conferences have, on average, 80 delegates, coming from a diverse range of employment backgrounds. The conference is an open dialogue between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous delegates. ATSIMA is attempting to create a community of people that are actively involved in the conference and working towards common goals. ATSIMA is creating the Revolution.


Aboriginal, ATSIMA, Mathematics, Maths, Podcast, STEAM, STEM, STEM Education, Stemiverse

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