24 SES 05 A, Early Years Mathematics Education
During the last three decades, varied efforts have been placed over raising a sociopolitical agenda for mathematics education with an emphasis towards stressing the importance for reforming curricula, creating counter pedagogic practices and establishing educational policy and practice for social justice, intercultural pedagogy and critical citizenship. Such efforts are often rooted within theoretical and empirical research that helps to sensitize public audiences on issues concerning the political, cultural and social dimensions of mathematics, mathematical learning and mathematical knowledge transmission and the public understanding of mathematics. Towards this direction the perspective of critical mathematics education as epistemology and pedagogical praxis could pave the ground that allows us to imagine and weave alternative acts to what one might call established or dominant formal and/or informal practices. The interest towards embracing such an endeavor at the levels of theory, policy and pedagogy is rooted through an expressed impetus for battling and resisting social injustice, racism and stereotyping that still exist and thrive in modern multicultural and technological societies and for considering the complexity of cultural diversity as it is embedded in particular contexts where mathematics education becomes implemented from the early nursery years up to tertiary education (Lerman, 2000, Apple, 2004, Valero and Zevenberger, 2004, Atweh et al., 2011).
In our earlier work, the issue of ‘learning identity’ was interwoven with children’s potentiality for entering potential spaces of learning where children learn not only to perform but also to value mathematical activity (Chronaki, 2005). Roma children, by and large, resist formal schooling, and remain marginalized or ‘voiceless’. Bertau (2007) argues how ‘voice’ is related to changing and positioning self simultaneously in diverse positions. Identity was, thus, discussed as a complex, fluid and hybrid process that does not develop in isolation but in direct interaction and participation within open communities and practices that allow entries to dialogicality and enable the troubling of essentialist identities (Chronaki, 2009, 2011). A playful, critical counter practice is taken here to embrace identity and learning as closely interrelated processes that are not simply analytical categories but deeply rooted in collective action and human subjectivity. Based on the above, ‘number in cultures’ has been designed as counter event that constitutes an open space -a ‘space of appearance’- for young children and adults to play and explore issues concerning the cultural underpinnings of ‘number’ and its relatedness to their own lives. Specifically, it has aimed to create awareness through memory work around cultural diversity of number-words and number-symbols in the context of Greek, Arabic and Romany languages. Number in cultures was implemented as part of a playground workshop where Roma children became active participants (as they took a leading role in the activity) along with adults and children of a non-Roma background. Taking the above into consideration the aim of the present paper is to account for our attempts towards designing mathematical activity as a space for critical mathematics education. Or in other words, a pedagogical space where children (and adults) can both play with numbers and begin to explore some complex and silenced stories about numerals as an integral part of culture. In the following sections, we first account on what might mean a critical perspective for the learning of mathematics, second we move towards analyzing the design for a critical perspective on number, third, the playful activity is described in detail, fourth, the implementation of the activity is outlined and finally, the whole experience is discussed.
Chronaki, A. (2009) An Entry to Dialogicality in the Maths Classroom: Encouraging Hybrid Learning Identities In M. César and K. Kumpulainen (eds.) Social Interactions in Multicultural Settings. Sense Publishers Press, pp. 117-143. Chronaki, A. 2011. Troubling Essentialist Identities: Performative Mathematics and the Politics of Possibility. In M. Kontopodis, C. Wulf and B.Fichtner (eds). Children, Development and Education: Cultural, Historical and Anthropological Perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer Apple, M. 2004. Ideology and Curriculum. New York. Routledge. Atweh, B., Graven, M., Secada, W., & P. Valero (Eds.), 2010. Mapping equity and quality in mathematics education. New York: Springer. Knijnik, G. and Wanderer, F. 2010. Mathematics education and differential inclusion: a study about two Brazilian time–space forms of life. ZDM, vol. 42, no. 3, 349-360.
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