Mathematics education in Palestine: A socio-political approach
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.