River of Learning

The Mathematics Department is proud to contribute to Maclean High School's River of Learning. The River of Learning focuses on the mighty Clarence River and aims to instill pride and confidence in our Aboriginal students and increase cultural literacy across the whole school community. 

We have worked closely with the Yaegl Aboriginal Elders to develop a programme of study called ‘The Counting System of the Yaegl People'. This programme is delivered to every Year 7 class each year by Mr S Boon, the Head Teacher of Mathematics, and explores the development of this traditional additive counting system over time. This programme started in 2013 and each year our department has reflected on and subsequently improved on each of the learning experience offered each year. 

Our department would like to thank the valuable contributions and support of the Yaegl Elders to this programnes developments. We would also like to thank Mrs M Rumford for her ongoing involvement and support in this programme.

For those who have attended the day or have viewed our display of student learning over the years you may have some questions to the purpose and meaning of the progressive floor art installation. In 2013, learning boards were constructed to display the additive nature of the Yaegl Counting System and provide observers with an understanding of the words from the Yagirr language and how they are used to construct larger numbers. Traditional natural colours of the Yaegl People have been used. These were green, yellow and blue.

In 2014, students were asked to think of the many ways numbers were constructed throughout the time when the Yagirr language was predominantly used by the Yaegl people. Students were then challenged to consider an alternate history where the Yaegl people were not interfered with and how an additive counting system would need to change and develop over time. Student work was then displayed using hand print cutouts. These cutouts were arranged to form the mighty Clarence River. You will notice the geography of Yaegl country around the river has been reflected to represent that student work focused on thinking about an alternate reality. Further, the two Yagirr counting dialects were discussed and are represented by the North and South Arm of the Clarence River and are labelled appropriately. Once these two connect the words for three and five which were later additions to the counting system are displayed and labelled. Traditional natural colours of the Yaegl People have been used. Dark green represents the hills, light green represents the flood plains, and yellow represents the beach. Whilst light blue has been used to represent the river with dark blue representing the sea.

In 2015, students discussed how the Yaegl Counting System was used - referencing discussions and stories told by the Yaegl Elders on the Year 7 Cultural Tours. Discussion also included the use of the two Yagirr dialects and how additive number systems developed overtime. These two dialects have been displayed by each half of pipi on the top of the midden pile of pipi posters prepared by students. These posters display students understanding of how the counting system worked. They were challenged to represent numbers from one to twenty using the Yagirr language. Further, student work appears to be emerging from the sand displayed on the base of this artwork. This is representative and in recognition of the impact that the River and Learning activities are having on all students involved. That, these students are now able to share the knowledge and understanding gained with others and that this culture, heritage, and language is resurfacing in this area in the same ways that the shifting sands among the dunes quite often reveal things that once seemed lost.