Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 97, Issue 1, pp 39–53 | Cite as

Power and identity in immigrant parents’ involvement in early years mathematics learning

  • Miwa Aoki TakeuchiEmail author


This study examined immigrant parents’ involvement in early years mathematics learning, focusing on learning of multiplication in in- and out-of-school settings. Ethnographic interviews and workshops were conducted in an urban city in Japan, to examine out-of-school practices of immigrant families. Drawing from sociocultural theory of learning and the concept of appropriation (Wertsch, 1998), the role of power and identity was examined in relation to children’s appropriation of an informal multiplication method that was taught by their parents. An intergenerational analysis, between immigrant parents and their children, revealed heterogeneous perspectives towards appropriation. Immigrant parents in this study framed their involvement in their children’s early years mathematics learning in relation to their positional identities and the pressures to conform to the mainstream practices of their host country. During their early years of schooling, students in this study were already aware of academic tracking in the school and were aware of what was believed to be legitimate in school mathematics learning. The significance of diversifying mathematics curriculum and pedagogy was discussed to affirm the knowledge and identities of immigrant students and families.


Mathematics learning in and out of school Parental involvement Identity Power 



I truly appreciate the participants in this study, who shared with me their insights and experiences. An earlier version of this manuscript was presented at the Eighth International Conference of Mathematics Education and Society and I am grateful for detailed comments and feedback I received there from Dr. Julia Aguirre, Dr. Marta Civil, and Dr. Rochelle Gutiérrez. I am thankful to Dr. Lesley Dookie and Dr. Armando Paulino Preciado Babb for their comments and feedback through our writing group.

Compliance with ethical standards


This study was supported by the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research [Grant number: 12 J02927] by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Any opinions, findings and conclusions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agency.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Werklund School of EducationUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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