Mathematics Education Research Journal

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 59–69 | Cite as

Mathematics teachers’ beliefs and curriculum reform

  • Boris Handal
  • Anthony Herrington


This paper discusses the role of mathematics teachers’ beliefs and their impact on curriculum reform. It is argued that teachers’ beliefs about the teaching and learning mathematics are critical in determining the pace of curriculum reform. Educational change is a complex process in which teachers hold strong beliefs about the quality and the process of innovation. Curriculum implementation may only occur through sufferance as many teachers are suspicious of reform in mathematics education given its equivocal success over the past decades. It is not surprising then that many teachers, when they come to enact the curriculum in their classes, rely more on their own beliefs than on current trends in pedagogy. These beliefs, conservative as they might be, have their own rationality in the practical and daily nature of the teaching profession, and in the compelling influence of educational systems from which these teachers are paradoxically the social product. The literature indicates that many of these teachers hold behaviourist beliefs, a fact that has strong implications for the success of constructivist-oriented curriculum reform. In general, studies of teachers’ pedagogical beliefs reveal the extreme complexity of bringing about educational change, and largely explains the failure of many past reform endeavours.


Mathematics Education Mathematics Teacher Elementary Teacher School Mathematics Educational Reform 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Boris Handal
    • 1
  • Anthony Herrington
    • 2
  1. 1.Cumberland High SchoolCarlingford
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationUniversity of WollongongWollongong

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