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This Mathematics Education A Critical Introduction by Mark Wolfmeyer book presents my attempt to bring together the most critical work in mathematics education and make this accessible for future and current mathematics teachers.
I also hope that critical educators more generally will find it helpful in understanding mathematics teaching. What, you ask, do I mean by critical? I start my answer with two famed scholars of mathematics education, Ole Skovsmose and Brian Greer (2012), who first argue that to be critical is to challenge.
This is the conventional use of the term; to be critical is to ask questions, to check for hidden assumptions, to push and prod. But second, in looking at etymological relations, they also remind us that to be critical is to attend to crisis.
True to this dyad, then, the assemblage contained herein opens up mathematics education for its contribution to the crises of our time, as well as the opportunities existing within mathematics education that can interrupt them.
Take the following as examples of modern-day crises: racial injustice, gender inequality, social class hierarchy, and environmental catastrophe.
As will be revealed in the contents of this Mathematics Education A Critical Introduction by Mark Wolfmeyer book, to think critically about mathematics teaching is to examine the underlying sociopolitical orderings of relations between groups of people through a focus on power, ethics, and historical and cultural understandings.
Advanced work in critical social theory suggests that such a framework illuminates the aforementioned crises of our time. Sadly, mathematics education as it is largely practiced reinforces these unjust circumstances and, interestingly, does so with a veil of neutrality.
The propagation of mathematics as an objective, value-free discipline will be our first line in critiquing mathematics education as it is typically conceived.
In place of this, we can view mathematics as a socially developed collection of not-yet-disproven concepts, and such a view begins to open our eyes to the manner in which a mathematical education can interrupt today’s crises.
After an introduction to the philosophy and anthropology of mathematics, the second chapter introduces the first step toward teaching mathematics critically, that of reform mathematics education.
This orientation will remain present throughout the Mathematics Education A Critical Introduction by Mark Wolfmeyer book as we discuss such a pedagogy’s promises and limitations. In the third, fourth, and fifth chapters, we take the social constructs of race, class, and gender, respectively, in turn.
Each of these three chapters moves through the relevant critical social theory before engaging with advancements in mathematics education on the topic.
In all, there exists the dual objective of critiquing mainstream mathematics education as well as redefining it for critical work. Regarding these efforts, I feel compelled to provide some words of caution.
First, treating each topic (race, class, and gender) on its own presents a certain danger, namely that singular discussions focusing on one social identity at a time might cause us to have a narrowed, incomplete picture or perhaps privilege one factor (say, social class) over another.
For this reason, the concluding chapter makes important the notion of intersectionality, an advancement in social theory in which the interrelated natures of race, social class, gender, and so on are highlighted. Another limitation of the discussions here is the imbalance in space devoted to the differing crises.
I chose to write entire chapters devoted to race, class, and gender mostly because these have been attended to significantly by critical educators of mathematics; unfortunately, much more work is to be done on disability studies, language-minority students, and sexuality and mathematics education, for example.
I do, however, touch on these topics as well as the environmental crisis where I found it relevant and hope that future efforts in critical mathematics will attend to these issues.
I close with my intended audience for this Mathematics Education A Critical Introduction by Mark Wolfmeyer book and an introduction to its features. First and foremost, I wrote it with future mathematics teachers in mind, and I plan to use it for undergraduate and early graduate students.
In teacher education, I suggest that it be used as a text in either a mathematics pedagogy course or an educational foundations course.
The Mathematics Education A Critical Introduction by Mark Wolfmeyer book’s style is conversational, and it contains features to aid in accessibility, including the glossary at the end of theMathematics Education A Critical Introduction by Mark Wolfmeyer book.
And at the conclusion of each chapter you will find suggested activities and prompts for discussion.
In these efforts, I also expect that current mathematics teachers eager to deeply examine their practice will find the Mathematics Education A Critical Introduction by Mark Wolfmeyer book easy to use.
Finally, to broaden the readership, I also made sure that mathematical discussions do not require advanced prior knowledge of mathematics.
This provides greater access to critically teaching mathematics for other readers, such as students and scholars of educational foundations, who might come to the conversation with a critical rather than mathematical orientation.