Excrescences of mathematicoscience and choices of researchers
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’.