24 SES 09 A, Participatory Approaches in Mathematics Education
Classroom research has documented tensions and challenges related to the adoption of reform-based practices in mathematics (Maass, 2011; Skott, 2001; Törner, Rolka, Rösken, & Sriraman, 2010). Often they are viewed as results of discrepancies between reform intentions and teachers’ knowledge and beliefs. This interpretation is based on acquisitionism as a metaphor for teachers’ learning and knowing (cf. Sfard, 2008).
However, research on and with teachers increasingly interprets professional activity in more participatory terms (Potari, 2013; Wagner & Herbel-Eisenmann, 2009; Walshaw, 2010). We also adopt a participatory approach and more specifically we use a Patterns-of-Participation framework (PoP) to understand the situated and dynamic character of classroom interactions and of teachers’ contributions to them (Skott, 2013). Informed by symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969; Mead, 1934), PoP views the meaning of the objects towards which a teacher acts as emerging as she takes the attitude of individual and generalized others, e.g. students, colleagues, and the reform discourse. Teachers’ contributions to the interaction are viewed as dynamic relationships between her participation in different social practices and what Holland et al (1998) call figured worlds, i.e. collective as-if worlds that shape and are shaped by the social practices through which they unfold. To be specific, we take it as empirical questions if and how the teacher re-engages in discourses related to mathematics and mathematics education as promoted by her teacher education programme and if and how these discourses are transformed as the teacher engages in classroom practices.
PoP has been used to study teacher identity and the role of teachers in classroom interaction in Sweden and Denmark (Palmér, 2013; Skott, 2013; Skott, Larsen, & Østergaard, 2011). Here, we use the framework to analyse teaching-learning processes in a Greek secondary school. As suggested above, we do so to understand the role of the teacher’s participation in different prior practices and discourses for the ones that emerge in the classroom.
Elena, the teacher in question, has a university degree in mathematics. Also, she has just completed a master’s course in mathematics education and begun her studies for a PhD on mathematics education at university level. Elena works in a public high school that follows the national curriculum and uses a mandatory textbook. High school teaching is generally oriented towards university entrance exams, which are very competitive. In most cases parents pay for private tuition to improve their children’s chance of success in the exams. Elena worked with private tuition in mathematics for eighteen years before moving to secondary school teaching four years ago.
Both Elena and we perceive tensions within the practices and discourses in which she has previously participated and between some of these prior practices and discourses on the one hand and the ones that unfold at the school and in the classroom on the other. The university entrance exams as well as most approaches to private tuition are highly procedural and impose constraints on classroom practices with a different orientation. In contrast the masters’ programme that Elena took is more reform oriented and in conflict with the experiences and expectations of her colleagues, the students, and the parents.
Our first research questions are if and how Elena (re-)engages in the above-mentioned prior practices and discourses during instruction, and if and how her participation in them is transformed in the process. Our next question asks if and how a PoP-interpretation leads to different understandings of the teacher’s contributions to classroom interaction than one that views classroom practice as an enactment of her knowledge and beliefs. This latter question addresses methodological and theoretical issues of general interest in mathematics education.
Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic interactionism. Perspective and method. Berkeley: University of Los Angeles Press. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory. A practical guide through qualitative analysis. London: Sage. Holland, D., Skinner, D., Lachicotte Jr, W., & Cain, C. (1998). Identity and agency in cultural worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, and society from the standpoint of a social behaviorist. Chicago: University of Chicago. Maass, K. (2011). How can teachers' beliefs affect their professional development? ZDM - The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 43(4), 573-586. Palmér, H. (2013). To become- or not to become - a primary school mathemartics teacher. PhD-thesis, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden. Retrieved from http://lnu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:613396/FULLTEXT02.pdf Potari, D. (2013). The relationship of theory and practice in mathematics teacher professional development: an activity theory perspective. ZDM - The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 45(4), this issue. doi: 10.1007/s11858-013-0498-2 Sfard, A. (2008). Thinking as communicating. Human development, the growth of discourses, and mathematizing. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Skott, J. (2001). The emerging practices of a novice teacher: the roles of his school mathematics images. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 4(1), 3–28. Skott, J. (2013). Understanding the role of the teacher in emerging classroom practices: searching for patterns of participation. ZDM - The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 45(4), 547-559. Skott, J., Larsen, D. M., & Østergaard, C. H. (2011). From beliefs to patterns of participation: shifting the research perspective on teachers. Nordic Studies in Mathematics Education, 16(1–2), 29–55. Stake, R. E. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks: SAGE. Törner, G., Rolka, K., Rösken, B., & Sriraman, B. (2010). Understanding a teacher'a actions in the classroom by applying Schoenfeld's theory Teaching-in-Context: reflecting on goals and beliefs. In B. Sriraman & L. English (Eds.), Theories of mathematics education (pp. 401-420). Heidelberg: Springer. Wagner, D., & Herbel-Eisenmann, B. (2009). Re-mythologizing mathematics through attention to classroom positioning. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 72(1), 1–15. Walshaw, M. (2010). Mathematics pedagogical change: rethinking identity and reflective practice. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 13(6), 487-497.
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