Culture and ideology in mathematics teacher noticing

Abstract

This paper responds to the burgeoning literature on mathematics teacher noticing, arguing that its cognitive orientation misses the cultural and ideological dimensions of what and how teachers notice. The author highlights Goodwin’s concept of professional vision as a way of bringing analyses of culture and power into studies of teacher noticing. The case of a high school algebra teacher who learned to notice the mathematical strengths of students from marginalized groups is used to illustrate how this might be done. The teacher’s noticing involved not only cognitive processes like attending to, interpreting, and deciding how to respond to students’ thinking, but also managing dominant ideologies that position students—especially students from non-dominant communities—as mathematically deficient rather than as sense-makers whose ideas should form the basis for further learning. The paper advances the field’s capacity for understanding the challenges that teachers face as they attempt to notice in ways that are ambitious as well as equitable.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    I observed seven of Amanda’s Algebra lessons over the course of one academic year, making audio recordings and field notes. We chatted informally during these observations. I also conducted a formal interview with her at the end of the year. All teacher and student names are pseudonyms.

  2. 2.

    Although some argue that “smartness” is part and parcel of an inescapably hierarchical and oppressive ideology (e.g., Leonardo & Broderick, 2011), CI educators use the term “smart” because the same cultural baggage that makes this construct problematic also makes it powerful for children to hear that this is what they are.

  3. 3.

    Goodwin’s analysis focuses on the first trial, in which all of the officers were acquitted. Two were convicted on appeal.

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Acknowledgements

The author wishes to thank Evra Baldinger, José Gutiérrez, Aditya Adiredja, Kimberly Seashore, and attendees and organizers of the 2016 Service, Teaching, and Research (STaR) Institute sponsored by the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) for their support in developing the ideas herein. She is also deeply grateful to the educators whose work is described in this paper, especially “Amanda.” The work presented here does not necessarily reflect the views of any of the aforementioned parties.

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Correspondence to Nicole L. Louie.

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Louie, N.L. Culture and ideology in mathematics teacher noticing. Educ Stud Math 97, 55–69 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-017-9775-2

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Keywords

  • Teacher learning
  • Teacher noticing
  • Equity
  • Culture
  • Ideology