This case study examines the practice of a full-time mathematics teacher and social activist working in a secondary school with the twin missions of college preparation and social justice. Findings detail how this teacher views the relationship between mathematics education and social justice and how her conception of teaching for social justice is enacted in her mathematics classes. Interview data and excerpts of classroom practice are used to describe how the teacher negotiates 2 dilemmas in her teaching: the challenge of fostering students' independence/interdependence and the problem of dominant mathematics as a necessity/obstacle to social justice.
David W. Stinson
This article shows how equity research in mathematics education can be decentered by reporting the “voices” of mathematically successful African American male students as they recount their experiences with school mathematics, illustrating, in essence, how they negotiated the White male math myth. Using post-structural theory, the concepts discourse, person/identity, and power/agency are reinscribed or redefined. The article also shows that using a post-structural reinscription of these concepts, a more complex analysis of the multiplicitous and fragmented robust mathematics identities of African American male students is possible—an analysis that refutes simple explanations of effort. The article concludes, not with “answers,” but with questions to facilitate dialogue among those who are interested in the mathematics achievement and persistence of African American male students—and equity and justice in the mathematics classroom for all students.
Tamsin Meaney, Tony Trinick, and Uenuku Fairhall
In this article, we explore how a school in Aotearoa [New Zealand] infuses the identity of Indigenous students into the school-based curriculum through the promotion of their language and culture in mathematics lessons. Bernstein's pedagogic device illustrates how teachers' practices were influenced by being able to think the “unthinkable.” This came from the contestation that arose when competing bodies of knowledge had to be integrated both at the school level and at the classroom level. For equity to be achieved regarding students' mathematics learning, parents' and the community's aspirations for students' education need to be infused into debates about the knowledge that teachers are expected to include in their teaching. This enables the local context to make a positive contribution to students' learning. It also implies that programs for improvement should not be imposed on schools unless there are opportunities for them to be adapted to the needs of individual schools.
JRME Equity Special Issue Editorial Panel
Beatriz D'Ambrosio, Marilyn Frankenstein, Rochelle Gutiérrez, Signe Kastberg, Danny Bernard Martin, Judit Moschkovich, Edd Taylor, and David Barnes
This dialogue, also extracted from a conversation among members of the Equity Special Issue Editorial Panel, involves the role of a researcher's position in mathematics education. It raises issues about the non-neutrality of research; the relationship between a researcher's identity and the design, analysis, and conclusions of a research study; the benefits for researchers and participants in positioning oneself; and the role of mathematics education in this endeavor.
In an era when familiar categories of identity are breaking down, an argument is made for using post-structuralist vocabulary to talk about ethical practical action in mathematics education. Using aspects of Foucault's post-structuralism, an explanation is offered of how mathematical identifications are tied to the social organization of power. An analysis of 2 everyday instances is provided to capture the oppressive conditions in which ordinary people involved in mathematics are engaged. Describing how systemic constraints become lived as individual dilemmas offers a way of understanding what we might do to effect change, and what we might do to produce tangible results.
Nasir Na'ilah Suad and Maxine McKinney de Royston
This article explores how issues of power and identity play out in mathematical practices and offers a perspective on how we might better understand the sociopolitical nature of teaching and learning mathematics. We present data from studies of mathematics teaching and learning in out-of-school settings, offering a sociocultural, then a sociopolitical analysis (attending to race, identity, and power), noting the value of the latter. In doing so, we develop a set of theoretical tools that move us from the sociocultural to the sociopolitical in studies of mathematics teaching and learning.
Indigo Esmonde and Jennifer M. Langer-Osuna
In this article, mathematics classrooms are conceptualized as heterogeneous spaces in which multiple figured worlds come into contact. The study explores how a group of high school students drew upon several figured worlds as they navigated mathematical discussions. Results highlight 3 major points. First, the students drew on 2 primary figured worlds: a mathematics learning figured world and a figured world of friendship and romance. Both of these figured worlds were racialized and gendered, and were actively constructed and contested by the students. Second, these figured worlds offered resources for 1 African American student, Dawn, to position herself powerfully within classroom hierarchies. Third, these acts of positioning allowed Dawn to engage in mathematical practices such as conjecturing, clarifying ideas, and providing evidence.
Danny Bernard Martin
Critical scholars have argued that mathematics education is in danger of becoming increasingly influenced by and aligned with neoliberal and neoconservative market-focused projects. Although this larger argument is powerful, there are often 2 peculiar responses to issues of race and racism within these analyses. These responses are characterized by what the author sees as an unfortunate backgrounding of these issues in some analyses or a conceptually flawed foregrounding in others. These responses obscure the evidence that, beyond being aligned with the market-oriented goals of these projects, mathematics education has also been aligned with their prevailing racial agendas.
Over the past decade, the mathematics education research community has incorporated more sociocultural perspectives into its ways of understanding and examining teaching and learning. However, researchers who have a long history of addressing anti-racism and social justice issues in mathematics have moved beyond this sociocultural view to espouse sociopolitical concepts and theories, highlighting identity and power at play. This article highlights some promising conceptual tools from critical theory (including critical race theory/Latcrit theory) and post-structuralism and makes an argument for why taking the sociopolitical turn is important for both researchers and practitioners. Potential benefits and challenges of this turn are also discussed.
Sydney M. Holbert and Angela T. Barlow
To support all students in meeting the Common Core's Standards for Mathematical Practice, consider the key features of tasks without words.