Tagung I Meeting

Convenors: Hauke Straehler-Pohl  | Nina Bohlmann

The disorder of mathematics education. (01/15/15 - 01/17/15)

Working towards research of social and political relevance.

While mathematics has the reputation of being a completely consistent and coherent science, the field of mathematics education rather seems to be a complex, at times contradictory, chaotic or even "messy" endeavour. In the same way that students have to put in a high level of individual and collective effort to create a coherent order around mathematics, mathematics education has to impose an order on the field for it to appear as something meaningful. It is our impression that this supposed necessity of order - guarded in the name of validity or research - often has the tendency to limit the scope of research to what can already be "said safely", restricting itself to the already thinkable and neglecting the yet to be thought. Consequently, the phenomenon “mathematics education” is stripped off of its complexity - however, we claim that the "reality" of mathematics education is constituted of exactly those moments that we cannot yet unambiguously symbolise. Thus, the “reality“ of mathematics education can be found exactly where it appears to be contradictory, chaotic or even "messy". We have the impression, that under the guiding principle of making valid claims, mathematics education research often becomes proceduralised and technicalised and loses more and more of its socio-political relevance. At times, mathematics education even goes as far as resembling one of the most artificial - but at the same time most prevalent - inventions of mathematics education: the word problem.

This development appears particularly problematic since the trend towards proceduralising and technicalising mathematics education research does not seem to lead towards an increase of awareness of its limited socio-political relevance. It rather appears to be en vogue to add a socio-cultural and political flavour to one’s research and hence to offer oneself as an expert in the field of socio-political decision-making. By concealing the disorder (which is the only warrantor for disputability) behind a phantasy of a neat order that suggests "pure reason" out of which wise decisions appear without alternatives, the political dimensions of mathematics education become de-politicized.

This meeting gathers 27 mathematics education researchers from various countries. Some of the researchers have developed or are currently developing cutting-edge methodologies allowing mathematics education research to meet the claim of being socio-political relevant.  The other part of the researchers have produced a radical and re-politicised critique on the kind of research approaches that claim to be socio-political relevant. It is the spirit of this meeting to share, discuss and contest the developed approaches – shortly put: to make them disputatious – and hereby sound out the conditions under which an understanding of socio-political relevant mathematics education research can be developed that is yet to be thought.

Participants: Nati Adamuz | Jehad Alshwaikh | Melissa Andrade | Peter Appelbaum | Christer Bergsten | Lisa Björklund-Boistrup | Nina Bohlmann | Tony Brown | Ditte Christensen | Liz de Freitas | Uwe Gellert | Eva Jablonka | Maria Johansson | Kenneth Mølbjeg Jørgensen | Gelsa Knijnik  | David Kollosche | Anna Llewellyn | Sverker Lundin | Monica Mesquita | Alexandre Montecino | Candia Morgan | Alexandre Pais | Aldo Parra | Hauke Straehler-Pohl | David Swanson | Paola Valero | David Wagner


January 2015, 15th - 17th.