This book addresses the question of how we might better understand
the task of teaching mathematics to young children. But rather than
starting out with a conception of mathematics derived from
mathematicsa (TM) own evolution, we center ourselves instead within
the social practices that surround the teaching of the subject in
British primary schools today. That is, we do not commence with an
a priori conception of mathematics and see what people are saying
about it. Rather, we start from what people are saying and see what
this points to. We probe how the desires of society have manifested
themselves in a societal decision to teach mathematics and how this
decision now shapes what we call "mathematics." This extends and
develops a conception of how language intervenes in the task of
mathematics education presented elsewhere (Brown, 2001). In this
present book however, we have a particular focus on trainee and new
teachers, with a view to pinpointing how this conception of
mathematics manifests itself in their evolving practices. We
question how such teachers with many years of experience as a pupil
in school might now re-orient themselves towards the demands of
teaching mathematics. We also consider how for those charged with
providing training for such individuals might better understand the
process and impact of this training. The book further questions the
way in which we might conceptualize the balance between nurturing
teachers to become autonomous professionals responsible for
developing and delivering the mathematics curriculum in schools
and, alternatively, setting policies that prescribe practices to be
followed. We consider whether we should focus our attention
principallyon the teachers themselves or on the professional space
in which they operate.
The book is primarily concerned with examining how trainee
teachers conceptualize their own professional development, from the
time they enter university on a four-year course as prospective
initial teacher training students through to their first year of
teaching in primary school. It has a particular focus on how they
understand mathematics and how they understand their own teaching
of the subject in schools. It offers both empirical and theoretical
Empirically, the book draws in particular on two studies
conducted by the authors, funded by the UK Economic and Social
Research Council and spanning a four-year period. Both of these
studies were concerned with the professional development of trainee
teachers with a particular focus on their phenomenological
experience of the training process.
Theoretically, the book draws on recent work in the field of
psychoanalysis, and in particular the work of Slavoj Zizek, as an
approach to examining how individual trainee teachers encounter the
social framework in which they operate. In tackling this we
consider the "technologies of self" that produce teachers in
schools. We also look at how we might theorize our empirical
findings that locate the discursive formation of school
To summarize the key strands: Firstly, we are keen to present an
account of how trainee teachers understand their own journey into
teaching mathematics in the primary school. Secondly, we wish to
understand better the conception of mathematics in the primary
school and how it might develop. Thirdly, we are keen to offer some
discussion of how official policyas presented in government
initiatives impacts on such teachers. Fourthly, we are concerned
with better understanding the role that research in mathematics
education might have in accounting for the process of trainees
becoming teachers in the primary school and in stimulating
development in this area. Finally, we try to offer a theoretical
frame that accommodates evolving and alternative conceptions of
mathematics, how it is taught and the social parameters that guide
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