Jehad Alshwaikh (Birzeit University, West Bank, Palestine)
This is a work-in-progress paper. The paper is an explorative attempt on writing about the relationship between mathematics textbooks and the socio-political status in Palestine. My intention is to investigate the ‘production’ of a passive citizen through mathematics textbooks and the impact of that shaping process on the engagement of Palestinians in the socio-political life. Drawing on multimodal social semiotics (mainly the work of Morgan), Sfard’s communicational approach and the work of Valero, I look at mathematics textbooks focusing on the notions of agency and power. In a recent project “Analysing Palestinian mathematics textbooks” (with Candia Morgan) we found that the image of learner in geometry lessons tends to be passive agent where students have to follow specific procedures and are expected to engage primarily in material activities. However, mathematics is presented in specialised forms of discourse including specialised vocabulary, specialised notation systems and abstract diagrams. While I feel confident about the issue of agency of the learner, I still need more work on the power issue.
Melissa Andrade (Aalborg University, Denmark)
School geometry fabricates the scientific minds of the future by training students to see not with the eyes of their bodies, but with the eyes of reason and logic. There is a gap between the expressed aims of school geometry, in terms of the teaching of spatial abilities to children, and the dominance of a school geometry rooted in Euclid’s axioms. Such gap is not a “misimplementation” of the curricular intentions. Rather, the gap evidences elements of the power effects of school geometry on children’s subjectivities. This study adopts cultural historical strategies to study the functioning of school geometry. It is built on the statement that school mathematics, as a technology of the self, promotes a certain type of subjectivity. This leads to problematize the ‘truths’ circulating in school geometry and, also, its effects on children’s subjectivities. Therefore, it is possible to understand the ‘gap’ in terms of how historically Euclid’s work becomes a circulating truth in scientific discourse, performing a scientific self. Hence, schools aim to shape students in order to follow the path of a scientist, not to become a scientist but to become a logical thinker, a problem solver and a productive citizen who uses reason.
Peter Appelbaum (Arcadia University, Philadelphia, USA)
My current project essentially questions assumptions about the need to assume identity, place and linearity in mathematics education. I am trying to combine alterglobalization approaches with psychoanalytic object relations and semiotic analysis to work both in and out of the structures and expectations of contemporary educational institutions of mathematics education, building communities that are safe and welcoming and at the safe time unbounded and permeable.
Lisa Björklund Boistrup (Linköping University and Stockholm University, Sweden)
In this text I focus on assessment as a key notion when it comes to investigating power relations in mathematics education. Taking the perspective of the mathematics classroom I investigate, through a foucauldian concept of governmentality, how students and teachers on a daily basis are institutionally governed through assessment discourses. Assessment is in this text understood as a broad notion incorporating feedback in classroom interactions as well as testing. The main purpose of the text is to present a methodology for investigating how different students may experience different assessment practices in mathematics education and, hence, how they are more or less invited into the discipline of school mathematics. This text is also, in terms of its methodology, a for-runner to a project on assessment practices in mathematics education in relation to students with various language and socio-economic background.
Tony Brown (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
The pursuit of economic ambitions sometimes seems to result in school mathematics favouring the performance of skills and procedures rather than nurturing the student’s more intuitive powers of mathematical rationality. This paper argues that this apparent dichotomy conceals a common belief that mathematics can be seen as independent of its past or present applications in everyday life. The paper favours a perspective from where the material points of reference that characterise school mathematics would be seen as supporting a speculative belief in the ideal mathematical entities that make up our mathematical heritage. These privileged entities (e.g. geometric objects, iterations, counts, equations) are seen as deriving from human experience of physical or social worlds and the rationalities that have been created to connect them. As a consequence the paper contributes to recent debates on the politics of mathematics education by arguing that rational mathematical thought necessarily rests on beliefs set within a play of ideological framings. School mathematics then presents not so much a distortion of “genuine” mathematical thought as a particular mode of thinking that enables the inclusion then selection of learners according to arbitrary curriculum or assessment criteria.
Liz de Freitas (Adelphi University, New York, USA)
While audio recordings and observation might have dominated past decades of mathematics education research, video data obtained from classrooms or design experiments is now the dominant form of data in the field. Alongside this development has been an increased interest in the role of the body in teaching and learning mathematics. In this paper, I argue that video research in mathematics education must be situated within the history of scientific cinema, and studied for how it produces a particular image of the human body. I compare and contrast current video research with early cinematic attempts to capture the gestural sensory-motor movements of bodies, and discuss the links between this kind of research and the shifting structures of industrial and digital labour. I unpack how video practices are now transposed through new algorithmic analytics of large video data sets, within a global software culture of surveillance that extracts value from human bodies. My argument uses theoretical tools from Gilles Deleuze - in particular his ideas on cinema and the moving image - to show how video data might be reconceived.
Eva Jablonka (King's College, London, UK) & Christer Bergsten (Linköping University, Sweden)
Our concern is the choices researchers might make in capitalising on the privileged role of mathematics in educational systems, in particular in contexts where the reshaping of educational institutions as business and the commercialisation and commodification of university-based research are perceived as interfering with their intellectual freedom. Funding of research in these contexts often privileges ‘findings’ that emerge from quantitative studies, especially if used to demonstrate direct implications for ‘student outcomes’ (including outcomes of marginalised groups). What Dowling refers to as ‘mathematicoscience’ is here implicated at several levels: students need to be apprenticed into it (as otherwise they are positioned as incapable ‘knowledge workers’, as deficient citizens or handicapped consumers); their learning outcomes are quantified and compared across schools, districts and countries; and teaching, teachers and schools are evaluated in terms of these learning outcomes, all by means of more or less sophisticated mathematical techniques. We discuss some examples of direct or indirect involvement of mathematics education researchers in teacher evaluation and curriculum design, and point to hegemonic strategies of persuading sponsors and policy makers how to install ‘good teaching’.
Gelsa Knijnik (Universidade do Rio dos Sinos, Sao Leopoldo) & Paola Valero (Aalborg University, Denmark)
We present the central articulation of a research project proposed jointly between the research groups led by Gelsa Knijnik, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, São Leopoldo, Brazil; Gloria García, Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia; Malin Ideland, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden; and Paola Valero, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark. The paper is structured in three sections: the first one explains the setup of the project, the second one, its theoretical framework, and the last one indicates the main issues, the methodological procedures and the analytical research strategy. Our intention is to generate a discussion of the current ways in which we are thinking of the political in mathematics and science education practices.
Anna Llewellyn (Durham University, UK)
In this article, I use a Foucauldian approach, to critique key taken-for-granted truths of mathematics education - that mathematics education research is heavily and uncritically invested in: progress; progressive pedagogies and the ‘free’ autonomous subject. I argue that this relies on a ‘natural’ mathematical child, who is posited as asocial, acultural and apolitical. Hence, I suggest that mathematics education, and the mathematical child, are not natural but instead are social, cultural and political products. The natural and ‘free’ child is produced through covert surveillance and monitoring. This is particular to neoliberalism and particular to the regimes of truth that circulate within mathematics education research. I suggest some considerations, for mathematics education researchers. That we should question what else we do when we place certain behaviours upon pedestals, and that we should interrupt dominant discourses of mathematics education. This means a reconsideration of how we do research, how we build ideas, and how we limit and ‘engineer’ what it is possible to say. It means we consider, how we allow certain versions of the ‘truth’ to propagate and how we restrict others. For example, we must query what we mean by progress, or the progressive mathematics child, and instead examine its cultural relevance and our own investments.
Sverker Lundin & Ditte Christensen (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
The starting point of our paper is Robert Pfallers concept of culture as characterized by a series of displacement acts. We will use Pfallers line of thought as a mean to understand one of modern cultures most impressive creations, education. Education in general and mathematics education especially is viewed as activities delegated to children. Instead of doing the learning oneself, the act is performed somewhere else by someone else. The soundness of our interpretation clearly appears when comparing education to other cultural activities such as the lightening of candles in church as a representation for the act of praying. Another of Pfallers examples is the spinning of prayer wheels or the delegation of watching television to the recorder machine. We argue that education in the same way as recording, spinning the prayer wheel and lightening the candle creates room for relief. Making use of transitional objects, these candles, wheels, recorders and children, one is able to both oblige and not to oblige to cultural norms that are demanding our time and energy when we would rather be doing something else or nothing at all. This behaviour Pfaller names interpassivity. Caring for norms imposed by culture sometimes consist in escaping these by acting as if we are truly engaged in behaving as we should. In terms of acting “as if” interpassive acts resembles play as defined by both Pfaller and Huizinga. Thus education, like other cultural phenomenon, takes the form of a play delegated to others.
Mônica Mesquita (Lisbon University, Portugal)
This (working progress) paper is a deep outburst! Its central aim is to propose some thoughts around our situationality as critical researchers and around the position that our researches occupy in the capitalist wile. The systematization of the presented arguments came from a historical reflexion in my young path as researcher and educator, auto-categorized as critical. The discourse starts from a brief introduction of some points of view over our choices, questioning our position of freedom, going to the political flows of our survival, and questioning the role of our production, reproduction, and contradiction while critical researchers. I do not bring new ideas; I only take timely this meeting to make a claim, or an invitation, to discuss our posture in a sense to pass us for another stage as critical researchers.
Candia Morgan (University of London, UK)
In this paper I wish to raise an ethical and practical issue about the communication and dissemination of research results in the public domain. Educational research is often criticised for failing to provide results that can be used to inform practice and educational researchers are criticised for failing to communicate with practitioners and policy makers. My concern is not so much with whether research is communicated “effectively” and can inform “evidence-based practice” (Slavin, 2002) as with the nature of the communication and with the recontextualisation of research outcomes as they move from the field of research into the fields of policy and practice.
Alexandre Montecino Munoz (Aalborg University, Denmark)
In this paper will be in operation some tools of the theoretical toolbox of Foucault and Deleuze, to explore how the mathematics teacher becomes a desired product of society and, at the same time, he/she becomes an agent for governing. By developing an analysis of studies published in the last volume of the Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education and the documents published by OECD and UNESCO, which are showing that the mathematics teacher is part of dispositives, the idea of globalization, social progress and competitive logic in current societies of control. The focus will be on how societies of control, dispositives and discourses are entangled to promote an understanding about the fabrication of subjectivity. A critical examination offers new cultural and political understandings about how mathematics teachers are part of the larger cultural politics of schooling and education.
Alexandre Pais (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
Why does mathematics education research creates a reality so at odds with the one experienced by the vast majority of teachers and students worldwide? This article is part of an ongoing project that seeks to analyse the ideological belongings of contemporary educational research, by focusing in the particular case of mathematics education. Here, the author displays some elements of Pfaller’s materialist approach to philosophy and Zizek’s ideology critique to analyse common shared assumptions of researchers when conceiving the influence of their work in practice. It is argued that mathematics education research needs to shift its perspective and recognise in its symptoms—students’ systematic failure, absence of change, increasing of testing, pernicious political and economic influences, etc.—the violent expression of the disavowed part of itself.
Aldo Parra (Aalborg University, Denmark)
An assumption of ethnomathematical research, widespread indistinctly by practitioners and critics of this academic field, is identified. This assumption concerns the relationship between mathematics and culture. We argue that many developments and theoretical conflicts within the field can be traced to that assumption. An alternative approach is proposed to explain ethnomathematical practice, trying to respond to some theoretical critiques and prompting new horizons for the academic field.
Hauke Straehler-Pohl (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)
This essay takes an ethical dilemma posed by current technological developments as a point of departure for discussing the phenomenon of mathematisation and demathematisation as a social phenomenon and a challenge for society. Educational ramifications are drawn and the need to promote self-confidence in rejecting mathematics-based argumentation when being confronted with ethical dilemmas is formulated. On his journey towards such an activity that bears such potential, the author develops a critique of prominent examples of activities proposed by Critical Mathematics Education. This critique feeds into the proposition of a new classroom activity called "no reasons to believe in numbers", based on the Žižekian concept of overidentification. The capacity of this activity to to promote self-confidence in rejecting mathematics-based argumentation is discussed and in the conclusion, the prospected outcome of the overidentifying activities is firstly linked back to the critiqued CME-activity and secondly to the initial discussion of de|mathematisation.
David Wagner (University of New Brunswick, Canada)
I develop and interrogate a tool for analyzing the positioning of one’s research, with special interest in the question of mathematics in its socio-cultural context. In particular I focus on a question that underlies critique of research that draws from a sociocultural perspective – “Where is the mathematics?” Considering various calls for authors to situate themselves in their research, I suggest that a full picture of positionality goes far beyond these calls. Thus, I suggest that researchers draw a diagram that depicts the positoining among the people related to their research and reporting as a way of prompting reflection on their positionality. This approach to reflection draws to attention connected storylines that are at play in the various relationships. I provide an example of using this tool by analyzing an article I have co-authored. Though the positioning diagram draws to attention interactions that are not usually reported on in research reporting, the diagram is still a significant simplification of the complex interaction of the storylines at play in the research relationship. I demonstrate the layering of storyline by identifying a discourse that connects partisan politics, the politics of mathematics education research, and the politics of mathematics classroom culture, which was the focus of the analyzed article. I close with questions about such diagrams and about positioning within the field of mathematics education.
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