Connecting Mathematics, Creativity & Culture (How I Prepare Students For the Future)

Situation: In my class, I have a number of students from different Pacific cultures. As part of our mathematics learning this term we have been focusing on Geometry and in particular, symmetry and transformations.

Action: As a teacher, I provided an opportunity for my students to learn about traditional Pacific bark cloth, often known as siapo (Samoa), tapa (Tonga), masi (Fiji). Throughout the learning, students brought in examples of these cultural artefacts and we analysed and identified the patterns, symmetry and geometrical transformations (e.g. reflection, rotation, translation) in each piece.

Through these hands-on experiences and discussions, students were able to develop and refine their understanding of geometry. They then worked collaboratively to use Keynote to design their own digital Pacific patterns based on the siapo/ tapa/ masi that we had analysed. After creating their designs, they shared these with their peers and explained the mathematical concepts they had included.

Result: This learning provided my students with an opportunity to connect their learning at school with their cultural backgrounds in a creative way. It also provided a space for them to become the expert in the class as they shared key information about their culture's use of geometry. Another positive outcome was that the students developed skills such as communication, team work and problem solving as they collaborated to create their Pacific patterns.


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