Mathematics Education: Exploring the Culture of Learning

By Barbara Allen; Sue Johnston-Wilder | Go to book overview

9

'The whisperers'

Rival classroom discourses and inquiry mathematics

Jenny Houssart


Introduction

A class of nine- and ten-year-old children was working on fractions of shapes. Two worksheets were given out and the children were asked to look first at the one starting with a rectangle. This caused some confusion as one sheet started with a circle and one with a square. In response to this, the teacher asked, 'Do you know what a rectangle is?' He pointed to the sheet in question and one of the children said, 'But it's a square'. The teacher looked again at the sheet, admitted that it was a square and apologised for calling it a rectangle. As the teacher started to explain the sheet, one of the children sighed slightly and said in a whisper, 'Well, anyway, it is a rectangle'.

The last remark uttered in the above was one of many unsolicited comments heard during a year of participant-observation research in a mathematics classroom with myself in the role of a classroom helper. This article will focus on these remarks and those who made them.

The class in question comprised nine- and ten-year-olds in a British primary school. They were a 'bottom set': in other words, they were all considered to be 'less able' as far as mathematics was concerned. There were four children in the class who regularly made unsolicited comments about the mathematics being considered. I call them 'the whisperers', as many of the comments were made as whispered asides without apparent expectation of a response. Sometimes the contributions were louder and represented a challenge to official classroom discussion.

The whisperers formed an unofficial culture within the classroom, with a discourse which differed from the official classroom one. Comparing the two discourses and the two cultures which they represent shows that the whisperers adopted an inquiry mathematics perspective, whilst their teacher followed a school mathematics tradition. The two cultures failed to interact successfully and the whisperers continued to be considered as relatively unsuccessful at mathematics.

This study contrasts with existing work which suggests that inquiry mathematics is something introduced by teachers and often met with resistance by children. It also highlights the difficulties of categorising children according to 'mathematical ability'.

-146-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Mathematics Education: Exploring the Culture of Learning
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 246

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit OpenDyslexic.org.

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.