Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 92, Issue 3, pp 315–329 | Cite as

Schooling novice mathematics teachers on structures and strategies: a Bourdieuian perspective on the role of “others” in classroom practices

  • Kathleen T. Nolan


School discursive practices produce and reproduce acceptable notions of the good mathematics teacher, thereby shaping identity and agency in becoming a teacher. In this paper, I draw on key aspects of Bourdieu’s social field theory—his conceptual “thinking tools” and his reflexive sociology—to explore the relations and discourses of school mathematics classrooms as experienced by two novice secondary mathematics teachers. Presentation and analysis of interview transcript data, juxtaposed with fictional “dear novice teacher” letters from the field, reveal the ways in which the two novice mathematics teachers carefully negotiate space for enacting agency amid institutional school “others.” The reflections in this paper are made relevant for mathematics teacher education through a better understanding of novice mathematics teacher agency, including an account of how these two teachers are being “schooled” on the structures and strategies of classroom practices. An additional contribution of this paper to theory in mathematics education lies in the approach to analysis that draws on Bourdieu’s reflexive sociology, specifically the concept of a field of opinion, to introduce competing discourses offered by novice teachers in mathematics classrooms and by teacher educators/researchers in teacher education programs.


Novice mathematics teachers Bourdieu’s social field theory Agency Reflexive sociology Doxa Field of opinion Mathematics pedagogy and innovation 



This research was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Insight Grant. Perspectives, findings, and conclusions expressed herein are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the granting agency.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada

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