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Numeracy in Youth and Adult Basic Education: syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic dimensions of a discursive practice

  • Maria da Conceição Ferreira Reis FonsecaEmail author
Original Article


The diversity of vulnerability conditions, that have prevented children and adolescents from exercising their right to school education, also produces a diversity of cultural references of the public that comes to Basic Education programs for Youth and Adults in developing countries. This diversity often forges appropriation processes of numeracy practices that defy the rationality assumed by hegemonic mathematics and confront us with the insufficiency of not only the syntactic approach, but also the semantic resources in school mathematics teaching. Focusing on events occurring in classrooms of different programs that I have been accompanying in Brazil, I identify and analyze tensions, disputes, and complementarities among the signification efforts being referenced in syntactic, semantic or pragmatic dimensions of language games that constitute the discursive interactions in these contexts. My analysis is based on theoretical tools of language studies that invest in reflections on pragmatics and, as in Wittgenstein’s later works, assume that meaning is determined by use, allowing scholars to approach linguistic signification as a social phenomenon and numeracy practices as discursive practices of social subjects in interaction. The findings provide evidence to further discuss the complexity of the classroom, to which the vulnerability of the students’ living conditions adds decisive elements, challenges and possibilities.


Youth and Adult Basic Education Appropriation of School Numeracy Practices Diversity of forms of life in the classroom Pragmatics of language Meaning and signification 



This research was supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq–Brazil) and Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG–Brazil).


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Copyright information

© FIZ Karlsruhe 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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