chapter  8
24 Pages

Supporting Mathematical Literacy

In the previous chapter, I concluded that the major issue in exclusion from mathematics is the way in which its central practices are hidden from many students, causing them to remain on the margins, lacking the means of ownership. The multiple strands of individual learners’ mathematics historiestheir “trajectories through Discourse space”—combine to generate their unique relationships with mathematics. Patterns are visible, however, and we have seen how the discourses of gender, learning and of mathematics itself contribute to repeated positionings of self within a constrained range of available identities. My major focus in this book has been the extent to which these positionings of self enable identities of participation in mathematics, and I have shown that even students who strive to be creative participators frequently experience their relationships with the subject in terms of marginalization rather than participation. While gender discourses seem to support boys and men in more positive relationships with mathematics, this does not necessarily mean that they have identities of engagement. For students who are outside of the dominant white, middle-class culture, the practices by which mathematics is created and validated are simply not made available or visible in mathematics talk and texts. In the UK, these students are more likely to find themselves in lower sets, where pedagogic style again offers restricted options for developing a participatory identity. My over-arching concern, then, is with the means by which students can be supported to develop a mathematical literacy in the sense of participation in and ownership of the practices of mathematics.