A language for the sociological description of pedagogic texts with particular reference to the Secondary School Mathematics Scheme SMP 11-16
The thesis is concerned with the production of a language for the systematic sociological description of pedagogic texts and with the application of this mechanism to two series of textbooks within the secondary school mathematics scheme, SMP 11-16. One series is targeted at the upper end of the 'ability' range, the other is intended for low ability' pupils. The thesis opens with a discussion of two prominent positions within mathematics education, concluding that they both 'mythologise' mathematical knowledge by abstracting it from the social bases of its elaboration. A search of the literature on the analysis of textbooks reveals that the majority of sociologicallyoriented work entails either ideological analysis or the analysis of the representation of one or more particular categories, most frequently gender and/or race. None of this research combines a theoretically coherent position with a set of derived principles for the detailed analysis of text. Chapter 3 presents a general methodological position in relation to three themes. These are, the distinction between the abstract and the concrete, the construction of subjectivity, and the contextualising and recontextualising of practices. The principal resources in this discussion are the works of Basil Bernstein, Pierre Bourdieu, Umberto Eco, Michel Foucault, and Valerie Walkerdine. Out of a critical discussion of this work, ten Theoretical Propositions are derived. These propositions form the general methodological basis of the 'language of description' which is derived from them in Chapter 4. The following five Chapters comprise an introductory description and a detailed analysis of the two series of textbooks. The analysis is predominantly qualitative in nature, but also incorporates a quantitative component. The latter focuses, in particular, on the modes of signification (icon, index, symbol) that are incorporated in the textbooks. The principal findings that emerge from the analysis describe the ways in which the texts select and construct apprenticed and alienated ideal readers. The differentiation between the apprenticed and alienated ideal readers is, primarily, constructed in terms of social class. The concluding Chapter includes an overview of the thesis and a discussion of the limitations of and possibilities arising from the language of description and its application. The concluding Section works more freely with the language and with the findings of the analysis in developing a theoretical speculation in respect of a possible conception of the relationship between sociological research and educational practice.