Our connected world is exploding with images and sounds of cultural hybridity and fluidity. Mathematics classrooms, however, remain frozen in time. One consequence of this inertia is that mathematics education, rather than being a way to provide opportunities that lead to better lives for students, continues to limit those opportunities by reproducing existing societal inequities (Ernest, 2009). The inertia continues despite Herculean efforts by a range of stakeholders in mathematics education to broaden and diversify the voices participating in classroom mathematical conversations. What does the contrast between the increasingly dynamic and “flattened” (Friedman, 2005) nature of our global culture and the static and hierarchical nature of the mathematics classroom have to do with a book about classroom mathematical discourse and issues of equity?
Victoria Hand and Tamsin Meaney
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.