Indigenising University Mathematics

Love and Pedagogy

"Love and Pedagogy" is led by Michael Donovan and Jo-ann Larkins. Michael Donovan is a Gumbaynggir man from the north coast of NSW who grew up in Sydney. He is a teacher and educational researcher based at Macquarie University. Jo-ann Larkins is a statistician, mathematics educator and science communicator based at Federation University.

On the face of it love and pedagogy seem like a strange pairing. But if we wish indigenising tertiary mathematics to be a truly transformative experience, we might find a pathway where love meets pedagogy. A loving pedagogical approach strives to inspire students to seek knowledge whilst challenging their boundaries, bringing students and teachers together in a shared, trusting quest for knowledge.

Precisely defining all the facets of Love is a difficult academic exercise. Loreman’s (2011) Pedagogy of love includes “passion, kindness, empathy, intimacy, bonding, sacrifice, forgiveness, acceptance, and community”. Many of these are also core attributes of Indigenous pedagogy.

As an Indigenous educator, developing his craft whilst teaching Aboriginal understandings, Michael finds himself in the fortunate position to critically examine western pedagogical theorists from an Aboriginal standpoint and his positioning as an Aboriginal man. He realises that nearly all of what the primary pedagogical theorists argue about good pedagogical practice is clearly understood as the best ways to engage Aboriginal students or what he calls ‘Aboriginal Pedagogical Theory’.

Perhaps a way to transform our tertiary mathematics pedagogy can be found in the characteristics of traditional Aboriginal education or Indigenous ways of knowing.
Or we can examine the successful Indigenous Pedagogical Practices being used in formal education.
Examining how we teach tertiary mathematics using the insights drawn from Indigenous perspectives and the Pedagogy of Love is powerful. Reconsidering how we teach, rather than just what we teach, has the power to revolutionise our discipline.

Loreman, T. (2011). Love as pedagogy. Rotterdam, Netherland: Sense.