The Sociology of Mathematics Education: Mathematical Myths, Pedagogic Texts

The Sociology of Mathematics Education: Mathematical Myths, Pedagogic Texts

The Sociology of Mathematics Education: Mathematical Myths, Pedagogic Texts

The Sociology of Mathematics Education: Mathematical Myths, Pedagogic Texts

Synopsis

Until the 1960s, maths was studied as an academic subject in a desire to have more mathematicians. The current trend, however, has moved away from viewing maths as a purely intellectual endeavour and towards developing a more mathematically competent workforce and citizenry. This trend has seen a large increase in the number of maths schemes being produced by the major educational publishers, which attempt to make maths 'easier' and more 'approachable' by using language instead of symbols.; So why do so many children still 'fail' at maths? The author contends that to understand this, teachers need to analyze and evaluate the maths textbooks they are currently using. The author shows the reader how to systematically analyze and evaluate these textbooks. This interrogation of classroom resources, should have important implications for teaching strategies and for textbook design and use.

Excerpt

Mathematics education is established world-wide as a major area of study, with numerous dedicated journals and conferences serving ever-growing national and international communities of scholars. As it develops, research in mathematics education is becoming more theoretically orientated. Although originally rooted in mathematics and psychology, vigorous new perspectives are pervading it from disciplines and fields as diverse as philosophy, logic, sociology, anthropology, history, women’s studies, cognitive science, semiotics, hermeneutics, post-structuralism and post-modernism. These new research perspectives are providing fresh lenses through which teachers and researchers can view the theory and practice of mathematics teaching and learning.

The series Studies in Mathematics Education aims to encourage the development and dissemination of theoretical perspectives in mathematics education as well as their critical scrutiny. It is a series of research contributions to the field based on disciplined perspectives that link theory with practice. the series is founded on the philosophy that theory is the practitioner’s most powerful tool in understanding and changing practice. Whether the practice concerns the teaching and learning of mathematics, teacher education, or educational research, the series offers new perspectives to help clarify issues, pose and solve problems and stimulate debate. It aims to have a major impact on the development of mathematics education as a field of study in the 21st century.

With its roots in mathematics, psychology and everyday classroom practice, it might be said that mathematics education is permeated with the ideology of individualism. Perhaps this is an artifact of history. Mathematics education came of age in the era of the Cold War when individualism ruled supreme in the West and communitarianism and social perspectives were backgrounded. in the past decade counterpoising the individualistic voice of developmental psychology a new voice has been heard in mathematics education. This is the voice of sociology and associated social theories. Although a social strand has long been present in mathematics education in such seminal works as Griffiths and Howson (1974), deep applications of sociological theory are as yet rare. Sociology concerns not only individuals and groups and their patterns of inter-relationships. Modern sociology also weaves knowledge and social practice into a complex whole. Until the last decade, studies which recognized this complex character were virtually non-existent in mathematics education. the feminist movement offered a social critique of mathematics,

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