The Disorder of Mathematics Education pp 53-63 | Cite as

# The Narcissism of Mathematics Education

## Abstract

Why does mathematics education research create a reality so at odds with the one experienced by the vast majority of teachers and students worldwide? This chapter is part of an ongoing venture that seeks to analyse the ideological belongings of contemporary educational research, by focusing in the particular case of mathematics education. Here, the author displays some elements of Pfaller’s materialist approach to philosophy and Žižek’s ideology critique to analyse common shared assumptions of researchers when conceiving the influence of their work in practice. It is argued that mathematics education research needs to shift its perspective and recognise in its symptoms—students’ systematic failure, absence of change, increasing of testing, pernicious political and economic influences, etc.—the violent expression of the disavowed part of itself.

## Keywords

Mathematics Education Education Research International Student School Subject Mathematics Education Research## Notes

### Acknowledgments

I am grateful to Ditte and Uwe for their tenacious criticism.

## References

- Abreu, G., Bishop, A., & Presmeg, N. (2002).
*Transitions between contexts of mathematical practices*. The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Bachelard, G. (2002).
*The formation of the scientific mind*. Manchester: Clinamen Press.Google Scholar - Baldino, R., & Cabral, T. (2013). The productivity of students’ schoolwork: An exercise on Marxist rigour.
*Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 11*(4), 1–15.Google Scholar - Biesta, G. (2009). Good education in an age of measurement: On the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education.
*Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 21*(1), 33–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Bloor, D. (1976).
*Knowledge and social imagery*. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar - Boaler, J. (2010).
*The elephant in the classroom: Helping children learn and love maths*. London: Souvenir Press.Google Scholar - Bourdieu, P. (2001).
*Science of science and reflexivity*. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar - Brenner, M. (1998). Meaning and money.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics, 36*(2), 123–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Brown, T. (2011).
*Mathematics education and subjectivity: Cultures and cultural renewal*. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Clements, M. A. (2013). Past, present and future dimensions of mathematics education: Introduction to the third international handbook of mathematics education. In M. A. Clements, A. Bishop, C. Keitel, J. Kilpatrick, & F. Leung (Eds.),
*Third international handbook of mathematics education*. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Clements, M. A., Keitel, C., Bishop, A., Kilpatrick, J., & Leung, F. (2013). From the few to the many: Historical perspectives on who should learn mathematics. In M. A. Clements, A. Bishop, C. Keitel, J. Kilpatrick, & F. Leung (Eds.),
*Third international handbook of mathematics education*. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Clifford, J. (1988).
*The predicament of culture: Twentieth century ethnography, literature and art*. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar - Evans, J. (1999). Building bridges: Reflections on the problem of transfer of learning in mathematics.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics, 39*(1), 23–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Gerofsky, S. (2010). The impossibility of “real-life” word problems (according to Bakhtin, Lacan, Žižek and Baudrillard).
*Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 31*(1), 61–73.Google Scholar - Gutiérrez, R. (2010). The sociopolitical turn in mathematics education.
*Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 41*, 1–32.Google Scholar - Gutstein, E. (2003). Teaching and learning mathematics for social justice in an urban, Latino school.
*Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 23*(1), 37–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Jablonka, E., Wagner, D., & Walshaw, M. (2013). Theories for studying social, political and cultural dimensions of mathematics education. In M. A. Clements, A. Bishop, C. Keitel, J. Kilpatrick, & F. Leung (Eds.),
*Third international handbook of mathematics education*. New York: Springer.Google Scholar - Jurdak, M. (2006). Contrasting perspectives and performance of high school students on problem solving in real world situated and school contexts.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics, 63*(3), 283–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Keitel, C. (2013). Introduction to section A: Social, political and cultural dimensions in mathematics education. In M. A. Clements, A. Bishop, C. Keitel, J. Kilpatrick, & F. Leung (Eds.),
*Third international handbook of mathematics education*. New York: Springer.Google Scholar - Klette, K. (2004). Classroom business as usual? (What) do policymakers and researchers learn from classroom research? In M. Høine & A. Fuglestad (Eds.),
*Proceedings of the 28th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education*(Vol. 1, pp. 3–16). Bergen, Norway: University College.Google Scholar - Lacan, J. (2007).
*The other side of psychoanalysis: The seminar of Jacques Lacan book XVII*(1st ed.). New York: Norton & Company. 1991.Google Scholar - Lerman, S. (1998). The intension/intention of teaching mathematics. In C. Kanes (Ed.),
*Proceedings of Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia*(Vol. 1, pp. 29–44). Gold Coast: Griffith.Google Scholar - Lundin, S. (2012). Hating school, loving mathematics: On the ideological function of critique and reform in mathematics education.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics, 80*(1), 73–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Maningler, P. (2012). Acting out the structure. In P. Hallward & K. Peden (Eds.),
*Concept and form (volume 2): Interviews and essays on the Cahiers pour l’Analyse*. London: Verso.Google Scholar - Pais, A. (2011). Criticisms and contradictions of ethnomathematics.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics, 76*(2), 209–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Pais, A. (2012). A critical approach to equity in mathematics education. In O. Skovsmose & B. Greer (Eds.),
*Opening the cage: Critique and politics of mathematics education*(pp. 49–91). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Pais, A. (2013). An ideology critique of the use-value of mathematics.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics, 84*(1), 15–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Pais, A. (2014). Economy: The absent centre of mathematics education.
*ZDM: The International Journal on Mathematics Education*. doi: 10.1007/s11858-014-0625-8.Google Scholar - Pais, A. (2016). At the intersection between the subject and the political: a contribution to an ongoing discussion.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics*, 92(3), 347–359.Google Scholar - Pais, A., Fernandes, E., Matos, J., & Alves, A. (2012). Recovering the meaning of “critique” in critical mathematics education.
*For the Learning of Mathematics, 32*(1), 29–34.Google Scholar - Pais, A., & Valero, P. (2012). Researching research: Mathematics education in the political.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics, 80*(1–2), 9–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Pais, A., & Valero, P. (2014). Whither social theory?
*Educational Studies in Mathematics, 87*(2), 241–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Pfaller, R. (2007). Interpassivity and misdemeanours: The analysis of ideology and the Žižekian toolbox.
*International Journal of Žižek Studies, 1*(1), 33–50.Google Scholar - Popkewitz, T. S. (2004). The alchemy of the mathematics curriculum: Inscriptions and the fabrication of the child.
*American Educational Research Journal, 41*(1), 3–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Presmeg, N., & Radford, L. (2008). On semiotics and subjectivity: A response to Tony Brown’s “signifying ‘students’, ‘teachers,’ and ‘mathematics’: A reading of a special issue”.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics, 69*(3), 265–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Radford, L. (2006). The anthropology of meaning.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics, 61*(1–2), 39–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Radford, L. (2008). Culture and cognition: Towards an anthropology of mathematical thinking. In L. English (Ed.),
*Handbook of international research in mathematics education*(2nd ed., pp. 439–464). New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar - Skovsmose, O. (2011).
*An invitation to critical mathematics education*. Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Skovsmose, O., & Valero, P. (2008). Democratic access to powerful mathematical ideas. In L. D. English (Ed.),
*Handbook of international research in mathematics education*(2nd ed., pp. 415–438). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar - Sriraman, B., & English, L. (2010). Surveying theories and philosophies of mathematics education. In B. Sriraman & L. English (Eds.),
*Theories of mathematics education: Seeking new frontiers*. Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Straehler-Pohl, H., & Pais, A. (2014). Learning to fail and learning from failure: Ideology at work in a mathematics classroom.
*Pedagogy, Culture and Society.*. doi: 10.1080/14681366.2013.877207.Google Scholar - Vinner, S. (1997). From intuition to inhibition—mathematics education and other endangered species. In E. Pehkonen (Ed.),
*Proceedings of the 21th Conference of the International Group for Psychology of Mathematics Education*(Vol. 1, pp. 63–78). Helsinki: Lahti Research and Training Centre, University of Helsinki.Google Scholar - Williams, J., & Wake, G. (2007). Black boxes in workplace mathematics.
*Educational Studies in Mathematics, 64*(3), 317–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Žižek, S. (2000). Da capo senza fine. In J. Butler, E. Laclau, & S. Žižek (Eds.),
*Contingency, hegemony, universality: Contemporary dialogues on the left*(pp. 213–262). London: Verso.Google Scholar - Žižek, S. (2012).
*Less than nothing*. London: Verso.Google Scholar