Teachers’ Mathematical Knowledge, Teaching and the Problem of Inequality

  • Hamsa VenkatEmail author
Part of the Policy Implications of Research in Education book series (PIRE, volume 10)


In this chapter, the foci of key national policy interventions are considered in relation to concerns with primary teachers’ mathematical knowledge and primary mathematics teaching in South Africa. This evidence points to knowledge and practice resources for supporting learning being distributed inequitably across socio-economic divides, with teachers in lower socio-economic status schools scoring lower than their higher socio-economic status counterparts on measures of mathematical content knowledge and working with slower pacing and more limited curriculum coverage. Given the broad agreement that basic mathematical knowledge is required for the possibility of coherent and connected mathematics teaching, there is urgent need for policy attention to improving primary teachers’ content knowledge and classroom practices related to mathematics, to address inequality. The analysis presented in this chapter suggests, through the categorization of resources into material, cultural and human domains, that attention to human resources in terms of teachers’ mathematical knowledge and mathematics teaching has largely been sidelined. A lack of consensus in the research base on what counts as basic mathematical knowledge and as quality teaching is indicated as part of the problem. Initiatives to build consensus are viewed as useful for directing policy on mathematical knowledge and mathematics teaching development.


Teachers’ mathematical knowledge resources math wars inequality South Africa 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wits School of EducationUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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