Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 249–263 | Cite as

Signifying “students”, “teachers” and “mathematics”: a reading of a special issue

  • Tony BrownEmail author


This paper examines a Special Issue of Educational Studies in Mathematics comprising research reports centred on Peircian semiotics in mathematics education, written by some of the major authors in the area. The paper is targeted at inspecting how subjectivity is understood, or implied, in those reports. It seeks to delineate how the conceptions of subjectivity suggested are defined as a result of their being a function of the domain within which the authors reflexively situate themselves. The paper first considers how such understandings shape concepts of mathematics, students and teachers. It then explores how the research domain is understood by the authors as suggested through their implied positioning in relation to teachers, teacher educators, researchers and other potential readers.


Subjectivity Semiotics Peirce Student Teacher Mathematics 


  1. Althusser, L. (1971). Ideology and ideological state apparatuses. In L. Althusser (translated by B. Brewster), Lenin and philosophy and other essays (pp. 127–188). London: New Left Books.Google Scholar
  2. Badiou, A. (2001). Ethics. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  3. Barthes, R. (1977). The death of the author. In R. Barthes (selected and edited by S. Heath), Image, music, text (pp. 142–148). London: Fontana.Google Scholar
  4. Bartolini Bussi, M., & Bazzini, L. (2003). Research, practice and theory in didactics of mathematics: Towards dialogue between different fields. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 54(2/3), 203–223. DOI  10.1023/B:EDUC.0000006169.86495.49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berger, P., & Luckmann, T. (1972). The social construction of reality. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  6. Bradford, K., & Brown, T. (2005). C’est n’est pas un circle. For the Learning of Mathematics, 25(1), 16–19.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, T. (1996). Intention and significance in the teaching and learning of mathematics. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 27(1), 52–66. DOI  10.2307/749197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, T. (2001). Mathematics education and language: Interpreting hermeneutics and post-structuralism (2nd ed.). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, T. (2008a). Lacan, subjectivity and the task of mathematics education research. Educational Studies in Mathematics DOI  10.1007/s10649-007-9111-3.
  10. Brown, T. (2008b). Desire and drive in researcher subjectivity: The broken mirror of Lacan. Qualitative Inquiry, 14(3), 402–423. DOI  10.1177/1077800407311960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown, T. (2008c). Introduction. In T. Brown (Ed.), The psychology of mathematics education: A psychoanalytic displacement. Rotterdam: Sense (in press).Google Scholar
  12. Brown, T., Atkinson, D., & England, J. (2006). Regulative discourses in education: A Lacanian perspective. Bern: Lang.Google Scholar
  13. Brown, T., Hanley, U., Darby, S., & Calder, N. (2007). Teachers’ conceptions of learning philosophies: Discussing context and contextualising discussion. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 10, 183–200. DOI  10.1007/s10857-007-9035-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brown, T., & McNamara, O. (2005). New teacher identity and regulative government: The discursive formation of primary mathematics teacher education. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  15. Butler, J. (2005). Giving and account of oneself. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Castoriadis, C. (1975). The imaginary institution of society. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  17. Cobb, P., & Bowers, J. S. (1999). Cognitive and situated learning perspectives in theory and practice. Educational Researcher, 28(2), 4–15.Google Scholar
  18. Colapietro, V. (1989). Peirces approach to the self. Albany: State University of New York.Google Scholar
  19. Cole, M. (1996). Cultural psychology: a once and future discipline. Cambridge: Belknap.Google Scholar
  20. Colebrook, C. (2007). Graphematics, politics and irony. In M. McQuillan (Ed.), The politics of deconstruction: Jacques Derrida and the other of philosophy (pp. 192–211). London: Pluto.Google Scholar
  21. Confrey, J. (1991). Steering a course between Vygotsky and Piaget. Educational Researcher, 20, 28–32.Google Scholar
  22. Cooper, B., & Dunne, M. (1999). Assessing childrens mathematical ability. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Dowling, P. (1998). The sociology of mathematics education. London: Falmer.Google Scholar
  24. Duval, R. (2006). A cognitive analysis of problems of comprehension in a learning of mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1, 2), 103–131. DOI  10.1007/s10649-006-0400-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Eagleton, T. (2006). The English novel. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  26. Ernest, P. (2006). A semiotic perspective of mathematical activity: The case of number. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1, 2), 67–101. DOI  10.1007/s10649-006-6423-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  28. Foucault, M. (2001). Madness and civilization. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Gallagher, S. (1992). Hermeneutics and education. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  30. Graven, M. (2004). Investigating mathematics teacher learning within an in-service community of practice. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 57(2), 177–211. DOI  10.1023/B:EDUC.0000049277.40453.4b.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Habermas, J. (1972). Knowledge and human interests. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  32. Habermas, J. (1991). Communication and the evolution of society. London: Polity.Google Scholar
  33. Harvey, D. (2006). The limits of capital. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  34. Hodge, R., & Kress, G. (1988). Social semiotics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Hoffmann, M. (2006). What is a “semiotic perspective”, and what could it be? Some comments on the contributions to this Special Issue. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1, 2), 279–291. DOI  10.1007/s10649-006-1456-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lacan, J. (2006). Ecrits. New York: Norton translated by B. Fink.Google Scholar
  37. Laclau, E. (2005). On populist reason. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  38. Lather, P. (2007). Getting lost: Feminist efforts toward a Double(d) science. Albany: SUNY.Google Scholar
  39. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Lemke, J. (1995). Textual politics. London: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  41. Lerman, S., Xu, G., & Tsatsaroni, A. (2002). Developing theories of mathematics education research. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 51(1/2), 23–40. DOI  10.1023/A:1022412318413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lovlie, L. (1992). Postmodernism and subjectivity. In S. Kvale (Ed.), Psychology and postmodernism. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Malson, H. (1988). The thin woman, feminism, post-structuralism and the social psychology of anorexia nervosa. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Morgan, C. (2002). Writing mathematically. London: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  45. Morgan, C. (2006). What does social semiotics have to offer mathematics education research? Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1, 2), 219–245. DOI  10.1007/s10649-006-5477-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mouffe, M. (2005). On the political. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Nancy, J.-L. (2007). On the multiple senses of democracy. In M. McQuillan (Ed.), The politics of deconstruction: Jacques Derrida and the Other of Philosophy (pp. 43–53). London: Pluto.Google Scholar
  48. Nordtug, B. (2004). Subjectivity as an unlimited semiosis: Lacan and Peirce. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 23, 87–102. DOI  10.1023/B:SPED.0000024434.67000.36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ongstad, S. (2006). Mathematics and mathematics education as triadic communication? A semiotic framework exemplified. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1-2), 247–277. DOI  10.1007/s10649-006-8302-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Otte, M. (2006). Mathematical epistemology from a Peircian semiotic point of view. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1, 2), 11–38. DOI  10.1007/s10649-006-0082-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Parker, I. (2007). Revolution in psychology. London: Pluto.Google Scholar
  52. Peirce, C. P. (1958). Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Cambridge: Harvard Universiy Press Volumes I–VI, ed. by Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, 1931–1935, Volumes VII–VIII, ed. by Arthur W. Burks; quotations according to volume and paragraph.Google Scholar
  53. Peirce, C. P. (1966). Selected writings: Values in a universe of chance. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  54. Presmeg, N. (2006). Semiotics and the “connections” standard: significance of semiotics for teachers of mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1, 2), 163–182. DOI  10.1007/s10649-006-3365-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Radford, L. (2006). The anthropology of meaning. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1, 2), 39–65. DOI  10.1007/s10649-006-7136-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ranciere, J. (1998). Disagreement: Politics and philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  57. Ricoeur, P. (1981). Hermeneutics and the human sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Roth, W. M., & Lee, Y. (2004). Interpreting unfamiliar graphs: a generative, activity theoretic model. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 57(2), 265–290. DOI  10.1023/B:EDUC.0000049276.37088.e4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Saenz-Ludlow, A. (2006). Classroom interpreting games with an illustration. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1, 2), 183–218. DOI  10.1007/s10649-006-5760-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Saenz-Ludlow, A., & Presmeg, N. (2006). Guest editorial. Semiotic perspectives on learning mathematics and communicating mathematically. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1, 2), 1–10. DOI  10.1007/s10649-005-9001-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Steinbring, H. (2006). What makes a sign a mathematical sign? An epistemological perspective on mathematical interaction. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61(1, 2), 133–162. DOI  10.1007/s10649-006-5892-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge: MIT.Google Scholar
  63. Walkerdine, V. (1984). Developmental psychology and the child centred pedagogy. In J. Henriques, W. Hollway, C. Urwin, C. Venn, & V. Walkerdine (Eds.), Changing the subject: Psychology, social regulation and subjectivity. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  64. Walkerdine, V. (1988). The mastery of reason. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  65. Walshaw, M. (2004). Mathematics education within the postmodern. Greenwich: Information Age.Google Scholar
  66. Williams, J., & Wake, G. (2007). Black boxes in workplace mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 64(3), 317–343. DOI  10.1007/s10649-006-9039-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Žižek, S. (2006). The parallax view. Cambridge: MIT.Google Scholar
  68. Žižek, S. (2008). Violence. London: Profile.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Manchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK

Personalised recommendations