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Title: Troubling the mathematical child : an analysis of the production of the mathematical classroom and the mathematical child within the becoming of primary school student-teachers in England
Author: Llewellyn, Anna Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 5077
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2015
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In this thesis, I answer the question how is the mathematical child produced within the becoming of primary school student-teachers in England, and how does this include and exclude people within the mathematics classroom. This question arises out of the problematic discourses that student-teachers are exposed to when embarking on their journey to become a teacher. In particular, I focus on discourses that arise from the domains of educational policy and mathematics education research. Educational policy is chosen as this study is set within the New Labour (1997-2010) neoliberal era of marketization, accountability and performativity. Mathematics education research is chosen as this knowledge often circulates unproblematically and with taken-for-granted ‘truths’. In addition, in my role as a university teaching fellow, I had noticed that these discourses were dominant and offered conflict. To explore my research question, I carried out a case study of six student-teachers over the period of their three year degree course. I analysed their talk in relation to dominant discourses of mathematics education from within educational policy and mathematics education research. In order to unpack the truths that circulate, I stepped outside ‘enlightened’ epistemologies and instead, use a poststructural Foucauldian approach. This questions language and contends that meaning is produced within discourses. Furthermore, using Foucault, I contend that subjects become products of normalisation through governance rather than authoritarianism. Overall, I argue that the mathematical child in much of mathematics education research and educational policy is absent yet present. This position of the mathematical child covertly underlies much of the discussions concerning the teaching and learning of mathematics. However, although the mathematical child is rarely spoken about, they are produced through discourses as a normalised cognitive performance of the mathematics classroom. Specifically, in New Labour’s educational policy the mathematical child is produced as functional, and often indistinguishable from a mechanical automaton. Whilst in much of mathematics education research the mathematical child is naturally mathematically curious; what I call ‘romantic’. This is produced through simplistic interpretations of discourses such as understanding, confidence and progress, which (inadvertently) normalise a discourse of ‘natural ability’. Within this, the student-teachers take on various aspects of discourses – such as ‘natural ability’ and normative progress - and ignore others, such as mathematics for all. This happens as the children the student-teachers meet, are neither functional, naturally curious, nor normative in their behaviour. It is this mismatch of expectation and experience that includes some, such as the naturally able, within mathematics and excludes others.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available