Student Diversity and Mathematics Education Reform
Walter G. Secada University of Wisconsin--Madison
Other chapters in these two volumes have presented topics in learning and cognitive instruction from psychological points of view; they have drawn implications from the general literature on learning and teaching; and they have focused on specific content domains, such as reading and mathematics. The advances in our knowledge of these areas are truly impressive. Yet, as we read these and similar accounts of learning and instruction, we should be struck by how issues of affect and of student diversity are missing from the pictures that are drawn (see McLeod, 1988; Secada, 1988a). Such omissions are unfortunate, not only because they represent important forces that are known to have effects on course taking, achievement, careers, and students' later life opportunities to participate in our society; they are also dangerous because our efforts at educational reform are likely to misfire, because the knowledge base on which those reforms are built will be overly narrow and may be biased against non-White, non-male, and nonmiddle-class students.
The purpose of this chapter is to reintroduce issues of student diversity into the discourse of these volumes. The content domain is mathematics education, an area that is embarking on a reform of what should be taught and how it should be taught. This reform movement has drawn extensively from work that is similar to what is found in these volumes (see National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1987; Romberg & Stewart, 1987). Yet, for the comprehensiveness of its