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University of Stirling



"Disadvantage" and School Mathematics: The Politics of Context

Swanson DM (2002) "Disadvantage" and School Mathematics: The Politics of Context. International Journal of Learning, 9, pp. 1471-1480, Art. No.: LC02-0123-2002.

Understanding school mathematics as a discourse of power that (re)produces social inequality, requires, from a critical sociological perspective, invoking a conception of it as a non-neutral discourse that produces contextual realisations according to principles of power. To set the tone, this paper makes a few assertions about school mathematics to support my position and to undergird my discussion on the relationship between discourse and practice in mathematics classroom contexts. This study sets out to provide a sociological slant to the issues that influence classroom mathematics practices, most especially practices that construct members of school communities, such as teachers and, especially, their students, in terms of “disadvantage” in relation to school mathematics. This sociological approach focuses on the concomitant relationship between the ways in which students (and teachers) are spoken about in terms of social difference, (such as gender, class, race, culture, language, and ability, amongst others), and the kinds of differentiated practices which are afforded them, or in which they engage, in the mathematics classroom. This approach is a break from the more usual cognition-based approach to mathematics education.

sociological language of description; construction of disadvantage; school mathematics; post-structuralism; mathematics discourse and practice; the politics of context; mathematics classrooms; Basil Bernstein; Paul Dowling; poverty; race; gender; class; socio-economic status; language difference; ability; constructions of social difference

International Journal of Learning: Volume 9

Author(s)Swanson, Dalene M
Publication date31/07/2002
Date accepted by journal21/07/2002
PublisherCommon Ground Publishing
Publisher URL…d.226/index_html
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