Political, relational, and complexly embodied; experiencing disability in the mathematics classroom

Abstract

The academic field of Disability Studies (DS) offers theoretical tools to understand how social practices intersect with embodiment, long a critical issue in DS because disability is a category of human difference that is always already embodied. I review two theories that seek to resolve this dichotomy between the body and social worlds: complex embodiment (Siebers, Disability theory, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 2008) and the political/relational model (Kafer, Feminist, Queer, Crip, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2013). I use these theories to analyze ethnographic data and narratives of a Latina named Desi around disability and mathematics. Desi’s narratives explored experiences relating to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Learning Disabilities, and mathematics anxiety. Desi’s narratives described disabilities as socio-political constructs, involving relations of power and exclusion, as well as acknowledging the physiological, embodied experience of some differences in relation to mathematics. Through this analysis, I argue for the inclusion of emotion in embodiment, and the use of narrative analysis paired with ethnography as a tool to understand embodied experience.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. 1.

    While person-first language is preferred in the US, I alternate between person-first and identity-first language as some disabled activists prefer identity-first language to communicate disability as a valued identity (ASAN 2018).

References

  1. A.S.A.N. (2018). Identity-first language. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from http://autisticadvocacy.org/about-asan/identity-first-language/.

  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

  3. Andersson, A., Valero, P., & Meaney, T. (2015). “I am [not always] a maths hater”: Shifting students’ identity narratives in context. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 90(2), 143–161. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-015-9617-z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Ashcraft, M. H., & Moore, A. M. (2009). Mathematics anxiety and the affective drop in performance. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 27(3), 197–205.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bautista, A., & Roth, W.-M. (2012a). Conceptualizing sound as a form of incarnate mathematical consciousness. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 79(1), 41–59. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-011-9337-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Ben-Yehuda, M., Lavy, I., Linchevski, L., & Sfard, A. (2005). Doing wrong with words: What bars students’ access to arithmetical discourses. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 36(3), 176–247. https://doi.org/10.2307/30034835.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bibby, T. (2009). How do pedagogic practices impact on learner identities in mathematics? A psychoanalytically framed response. In L. Black, H. Mendick & Y. Solomon (Eds.), Mathematical Relationships in Education: Identities and Participation.

  8. Black, L., Mendick, H., Rodd, M., Solomon, Y., & Brown, M. (2009). Pain, pleasure and power: selecting and assessing defended subjects. In L. Black, H. Mendick & Y. Solomon (Eds.), Mathematical Relationships in Education: Identities and Participation (pp. 19–30). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bradley, C., & Bowen, M. (1941). Amphetamine (benzedrine) therapy of children’s behavior disorders. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 11(1), 92–103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Brantlinger, E. (1997). Using ideology: Cases of nonrecognition of the politics of research and practice in special education. Review of Educational Research, 67(4), 425–459.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Collins, K. M. (2012). Ability profiling and school failure: One child’s struggle to be seen as competent (2nd edn.). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Collins, P. H. (2002). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  13. de Freitas, E., & Sinclair, N. (2014). Mathematics and the Body: Material Entanglements in the Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  14. de Freitas, E., & Sinclair, N. (2016). The cognitive labour of mathematics dis/ability: Neurocognitive approaches to number sense. International Journal of Educational Research, 79, 222–230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dowker, A., Sarkar, A., & Looi, C. Y. (2016). Mathematics anxiety: What have we learned in 60 years? Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00508.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Dudley-Marling, C. (2004). The social construction of learning disabilities. Journal Of Learning Disabilities, 37(6), 482–489.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Eligio, U. X. (2017). An overview of the growth and trends of current research on emotions and mathematics. In U. X. Eligio (Ed.), Understanding emotions in mathematical thinking and learning. London: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Evans, J., Morgan, C., & Tsatsaroni, A. (2006). Discursive positioning and emotion in school mathematics practices. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 63(2), 209–226. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-006-9029-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Ferri, B. A. (2011). Disability life writing and the politics of knowing. Teachers College Record, 113(10), 2267–2282.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Graham, L. J. (2007). Out of sight, out of mind/out of mind, out of site: Schooling and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 20(5), 585–602.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Halberstam, J. (2005). In a queer time and place: Transgender bodies, subcultural lives. New York: NYU Press.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Hannula, M. S. (2012). Exploring new dimensions of mathematics-related affect: embodied and social theories. Research in Mathematics Education, 14(2), 137–161. https://doi.org/10.1080/14794802.2012.694281.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Harding, S. G. (2004). The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies. London: Psychology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Heyd-Metzuyanim, E. (2013). The co-construction of learning difficulties in mathematics; Teacher–student interactions and their role in the development of a disabled mathematical identity. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 83(3), 341–368.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Heyd-Metzuyanim, E. (2015). Vicious cycles of identifying and mathematizing: A case study of the development of mathematical failure. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 24(4), 504–549. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508406.2014.999270.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Holland, D., Lachiotte, W., Skinner, D., & Cain, C. (1998). Identity and agency in cultural worlds. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Honkasilta, J. (2016). Voices behind and beyond the label: the master narrative of ADHD (de)constructed by diagnosed children and their parents. Jyväskylä Studies in Education, Psychology and Social Research. Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä, pp 105

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kafer, A. (2013). Feminist, Queer, Crip. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Lambert, R. (2015). Constructing and resisting disability in mathematics classrooms: a case study exploring the impact of different pedagogies. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 89(1), 1–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Lambert, R. (2017). ‘When I am being rushed it slows down my brain’: Constructing self-understandings as a mathematics learner. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 21(5), 521–531. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2016.1251978.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Linton, S. (1998). Claiming disability: Knowledge and identity. New York: NYU Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Luo, X., Wang, F., & Luo, Z. (2009). Investigation and analysis of mathematics anxiety in middle school students. Journal of Mathematics Education, 2(2), 12–19.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Martin, D. B. (2009). Researching race in mathematics education. The Teachers College Record, 111(2), 295–338.

    Google Scholar 

  34. McDermott, R., Goldman, S., & Varenne, H. (2006). The cultural work of learning disabilities. Educational Researcher, 35(6), 12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. McFarland, L., Williams, J., & Miciak, J. (2013). Ten years of research: A systematic review of three refereed LD journals. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 28(2), 60–69. https://doi.org/10.1111/ldrp.12007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Oliver, M. (2009). The Social Model in Context. In Rethinking Normalcy: A Disability Studies Reader (pp. 19–30). Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Price, M. (2009). “Her Pronouns Wax and Wane”: Psychosocial disability, autobiography, and counter-diagnosis. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 3(1), 11–33. https://doi.org/10.1353/jlc.0.0010.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Radford, L. (2015). Of love, frustration, and mathematics: A cultural-historical approach to emotions in mathematics teaching and learning. In From beliefs to dynamic affect systems in mathematics education (pp. 25–49). Cham: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-06808-4_2.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Reid, D. K., & Valle, J. (2004). The discursive practice of learning disability: Implications for instruction and parent school relations. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37(6), 466–481.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Riessman, C. (2007). Narrative methods for the human sciences. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Roth, W. M., & Radford, L. (2011). A cultural-historical perspective on mathematics teaching and learning. Boston: SensePublishers.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Scanlon, D. (2013). Specific learning disability and its newest definition which is comprehensive? and which is insufficient? Journal of Learning Disabilities, 46(1), 26–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Schalk, S. (2018). Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction. Durham: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Shakespeare, T. (2006). The social model of disability. The Disability Studies Reader, 2, 197–204.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Siebers, T. (2008). Disability theory. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Solomon, Y. (2012). Finding a voice? Narrating the female self in mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 80(1–2), 171–183. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-012-9384-z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Stoehr, K. J. (2017). Mathematics anxiety one size does not fit all. Journal of Teacher Education, 68(1), 69–84. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487116676316.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Tremain, S. (2006). On the Government of Disability: Foucault, Power, and the Subject of Impairment. In Lennard J.D. The disability studies reader (2nd ed., pp. 185–197). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation. (1975). Fundamental principles of disability. London: UPIAS.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Wendell, S. (1996). The rejected body: Feminist philosophical reflections on disability. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rachel Lambert.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lambert, R. Political, relational, and complexly embodied; experiencing disability in the mathematics classroom. ZDM Mathematics Education 51, 279–289 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11858-019-01031-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Disability studies
  • Embodiment
  • Mathematics
  • Disability
  • Narrative